Health care exchanges open for business October 1

Posted at 10:14 PM, Sep 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-28 00:14:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- As Senator Mike Lee from Utah tries to stop Obamacare in its tracks, Utah insurance companies say the train is coming and it's time to get on as health exchanges open for business on Tuesday, October 1.

"It already is the law," said Greg Matis, senior counsel for Intermountain Health Care and its insurance arm, Select Health. "Many provisions have already taken effect, and additional provisions are very likely to take effect January 1st, and we're encouraging everybody to get informed."

The Affordable Care Act mandates that individuals have health insurance by January 1. Its mandate is sweetened with government subsidies that help individuals making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty rate.

The ACA also subsidizes businesses with fewer than 25 employees that provide policies for their employees, paying up to 50 percent of premium costs, according to Matis.

Katie Masterson owns Hatch Family Chocolates in the Avenues area of Salt Lake City with her husband Steve Hatch. She said she's looking forward to the chance to buy a policy on the exchange.

"Last I knew, it was actually almost $1,000 a month for just the two of us, and I've just had typical checkups, nothing major," Masterson said.

The reason for the couple's high premium, they have dwarfism, which is considered a pre-existing condition.

"That's one of the hallmark changes,” Matis said. “On January 1, 2014 health status, medical underwriting, pre-existing conditions all go away.”

Masterson said she looks forward to the changes.

"I'm hoping that it's going to be a lot easier with more availability of different options,” Masterson said. “Because right now it's killing us.”

Click here for more information about the Affordable Care Act.

The Kaiser Family Foundation created an online calculator to estimate ACA individual costs.

The six Utah insurers competing in the Individual Marketplace starting October 1 are: