One thing is certain: The launch of online insurance marketplaces on Oct. 1 will generate lots of questions. For the first time, millions of Americans in every state will be able to go online to compare health insurance plans, sign up for coverage and determine whether they are eligible for Medicaid or federal subsidies. Anticipating their concerns, U.S. News & World Report in September expanded its consumer search tool Best Health Insurance Plans, providing users with a guide to every state health insurance marketplace. The guides spell out the details of these online marketplaces, established under the Affordable Care Act, to help consumers who do not have access to employer or government health plans to obtain coverage. U.S. News Best Health Insurance Plans also provides a tool to help consumers pick the best plans for themselves and their families, based on their budgets and location.
To further the conversation and to guide consumers' choices, U.S. News held a Twitter chat about health insurance marketplaces. Experts offered scores of helpful tips and cautions, noting that patients would be penalized if they didn't sign up for a health plan by March 31, 2014. They also said students from other countries with U.S. visas may be eligible for marketplace plans.
The chat's 299 participants, including members of the U.S. News staff, sent 1,142 tweets during the course of the discussion.