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State’s New online consumer site to help you with health Insurance

The Kansas Insurance Department has launched a website to help consumers prepare for purchasing health coverage on the new online marketplace that is

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger

Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger

scheduled to go live Oct. 1.

The marketplace, which the federal health reform law requires be up and running in every state, will offer consumers choices of several health insurance plans within four levels of coverage — bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

The insurance department website, InsureKS.org, features an animated tutorial and a premium estimator that consumers can use to see how much they can expect to pay for coverage and what they may qualify for in federal subsidies.

Giving Kansans an opportunity to take a hands-on approach to estimating coverage costs will help them sort through the claims and counter claims being made about Obamacare and the extent to which it affects premiums or health insurance purchase costs, said Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.

“Kansans who go online to the new site will find many answers to the questions that have been raised about the new health insurance provisions,” Praeger said. “We have tried to provide information and education pieces that will give them a chance to get the facts for themselves.”

Most rates for the plans being offered in the new Kansas marketplace – also known as the exchange – won’t be public until October. But the premium calculator developed by the department uses real pricing and coverage data to allow consumers to estimate premiums and subsidies for the second lowest-cost plan in the second tier of coverage known as the silver level.

“We call it a midpoint premium because there are catastrophic plans and bronze plans below and there are more silver plans and gold and in some cases platinum plans above it,” said Neil Woerman, the department’s director of information technology.

Woerman said the number of variables involved make it impossible to say whether the average cost of coverage on the exchange will be higher or lower than what has been available in the current market. But he said it doesn’t appear consumers will be hit with the large premium spikes predicted by some opponents of the health reform law.

“I can’t speak to that directly other than to say that these are lower costs than the Congressional Budget Office had projected,” Woerman said.

By Jim Mclean, KHI news

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