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Answering Some of Your Questions About Louisiana's Health Insurance Marketplace

The health insurance marketplaces are now open for enrollment but there's still a lot of confusion about how the exchanges work, what insurance plans are offered and who qualifies for tax credits and subsidies.

Below we hope to answer some of your most pressing questions about how Louisiana's health insurance exchange works. If you have any further questions that are not on the list below, please feel free to email news@wrkf.org and we will try to get them answered.

How can I access Louisiana's health insurance marketplace?

Since Gov. Bobby Jindal opted for Louisiana not to set up its own, the Bayou State's health insurance marketplace can be accessed via www.healthcare.gov.

What insurance companies are offering plans on Louisiana's health insurance marketplace and when does coverage begin?

Four companies are offering insurance plans through the Louisiana health insurance exchange: Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Louisiana, Humana, and . Coverage can begin as early as Jan. 1, 2014. The enrollment period for 2014 ends March 31, 2014.

Who can purchase insurance off the exchange?

Any one uninsured or who wishes to purchase their own health insurance can obtain insurance through the exchange. Even if you have insurance through your employer, you can opt to purchase an individual plan through the exchanges.

Who qualifies for tax credits?

Most low-to-moderate income individuals will qualify for tax credits.  People who earn between 100 to 400 percent of the poverty level are eligible. For a family of four with an income of up to $94,200 are eligible. To be eligible for subsidies, you must purchase health insurance off the exchange.

HERE is a handy calculator from Kaiser to help you calculate your eligibility.

How much will purchasing insurance off the exchange cost?

A recent Rand Corps study project prices of premiums in Louisiana to be about 20 percent less than they are now. A report released by the Obama Administration said after tax credits, a 27-year-old living in Louisiana making $25,000 a year will pay, on average, $71 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan. While a family of four in Louisiana with an annual income of $50,000, will pay $15 per month on average for the lowest cost bronze plan after subsidies.

But the exact amount depends on several variables such as age, household income, place of residence, and whether an individual qualifies for tax credits or subsidies. Plans will range from high-deductible bronze plans to more expensive platinum plans but all of them will cover a comprehensive set of services such as hospital and doctor visits, maternity and mental health care, and medicine.

HERE is a calculator created by NPR to help get you started, but you'll need to get in touch with a navigator (explained below) or go through the online enrollment process to know exactly how much it will cost you.Do I qualify for Medicaid?

Louisiana opted not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This means Medicaid eligibility for Louisianians falls under state guidelines, but determining eligibility is complicated and depends on many factors. You can find more information about Medicaid eligibility in Louisiana on the Dept. of Health and Hospitals website: HERE.

What about exchange options for kids' coverage?

All health insurance exchanges are required to sell child-only policies for kids up to age 21 and college students who have insurance through their school can keep it. More from NPR's reporting on the topic: HERE.

Is there anyone local I can contact for help purchasing health insurance off the exchange?

Four organizations in Louisiana were granted federal money to set up Navigator Programs to assist eligible residents purchase health insurance off the exchange:

Martin Luther King Health Center in Shreveport

- this includes all five LHEC offices across the state

Southern United Neighborhoods in New Orleans

You can contact the Navigator Program in your area to speak with a Navigator. These organizations will also hold community meetings throughout the state to make presentations and speak with residents in-person about their health insurance exchange options.

Copyright 2021 WRKF. To see more, visit .

Ashley Westerman is a producer who occasionally directs the show. Since joining the staff in June 2015, she has produced a variety of stories including a coal mine closing near her hometown, the 2016 Republican National Convention, and the Rohingya refugee crisis in southern Bangladesh. She is also an occasional reporter for Morning Edition, and NPR.org, where she has contributed reports on both domestic and international news.

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