Workers who lose their jobs and their employer-based health insurance will have new coverage options when the Affordable Care Act's state marketplaces open in October. But consumer advocates are concerned many may not realize this and lock themselves into pricier coverage than they need.
Many of these people will likely be better off buying a plan on the state health insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges. Plans sold there must cover a comprehensive set of 10 "essential health benefits," and consumers can choose among four plan types with different levels of cost-sharing. Premium tax credits will be available to people with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($11,490 to $45,960 for an individual in 2013), often making exchange coverage significantly more affordable than COBRA.
"COBRA was a transitional type of coverage while you're between jobs, but now we have a subsidized form of coverage available, exchange plans with subsidies," says Edwin Park, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
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