Healthcare marketplaces: Your questions answered

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) -- Below are some helpful links and information to prepare for the launch of the health care "marketplaces" on Oct. 1:

Q: Where do I sign up?

A: Kentucky is running its own marketplace, KYNECT. For more information, Indiana is using the federally run marketplace. For more information,

Q: Will there be any differences between the two states?

A: It's just a different marketplace to shop for care, said Tihisha Rawlins of the AARP. "In theory, this all should be the same whether it's state-based or federally based because you'll go on the website and shop around for your plan," she said.

Q: Will my coverage change if I'm currently on Medicare?

A: No, Rawlins said. "October 1 doesn't change anything for people on Medicare," she said. "They will continue to get Medicare and their supplement the way they're doing that today."

Q: How do I know if I'm eligible for assistance?

A: Kentucky will launch a calculator to help you on Oct. 1, said Carrie Banahan, executive director of the state's program. "You can see (the plans) without actually filing an application, but you're going to see the sticker price," she said. "In order to see the discount you'll receive, you'll have to fill out an application."

Q: What if I can't wait that long to find out the eligibility limits?

A: Individuals who make less than $45,960 and a family of four earning less than $94,200 will quality for some assistance. Individuals making less than $15,800 or a family of four making less than $48,000 will qualify for Medicaid.

Q: How many people will receive assistance in Kentucky?

A: Of the 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians, most will be eligible for assistance, Banahan said. Nearly half will be eligible for Medicaid, and about 290,000 will qualify for assistance with their insurance premiums, she said. An estimated 50,000 people won't qualify for aid. People who currently have individual insurance plans -- those not through their employer -- may also qualify.

Q: Is there any advantage to signing up right away?

A: As long as you sign up by the end of the year, you'll be covered, Banahan said.

Q: What if I don't want to participate?

A: There is a penalty starting in 2014 for people who choose to remain uninsured, Banahan said. The cost is $95 per eligible person or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. The penalty increases in each of the next two years.

Q: I see the debate going on in Washington about de-funding the federal health care program. Does that impact me?

A: Kentucky's program is still fully funded and the state is proceeding as-planned, Banahan said. The Democratic-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama will stop congressional Republicans' efforts to de-fund the program, Rawlins said.

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