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What you should know about shopping for health care online in Michigan


Today is the first day people can shop for health care plans at healthcare.gov

There are 73 health plans available on the exchange. These plans were approved by the federal and state governments.

Over the next six months, residents can enroll in the program. More from the Associated Press:

People earning between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line will qualify for tax credits to offset monthly premiums. Besides the uninsured, small businesses and those who buy their own insurance may shop on the exchange. The health law requires everyone to have coverage in 2014 or face fines.

Director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services Kevin Clinton said in a press release today that the 73 health plans are being offered by 13 different companies.

More from the DIFS press release:

“Newly required coverages, mandated by the ACA, make it impossible to make a direct comparison between policies purchased on the Marketplace and those purchased previously,” said DIFS Director Kevin Clinton. “Consumers should look at all available options in this new health insurance landscape to determine which policy best fits their needs and works within their budget.”

The state agency has apremium estimator on their website which can be used to calculate how much money someone would have to pay every month for health insurance.

The DIFS lists five tiers of plans: platinum, gold, silver, bronze, and catastrophic. For each plan, premiums vary based on the person's age, region of residence, household size, and tobacco use.  

My experience

I went to healthcare.gov at 9:50 this morning with the intention of exploring health care plans available to Michigan residents.

Apromotional video said it's simple, and easy to understand, which may be true. But I ran into some trouble. The web page noted that the site was getting so much traffic that I was unable to browse the plans.

Michigan Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI-08) and other Obamacare opponents are making some political hay out of the glitches.

Here's a tweet from this morning with the hashtag #trainwreck:

The Chicago Tribune spoke with a representative for the federal Health and Human Services Department. She said that federal officials were aware of the problems and were trying to fix them.

-- Lucy Perkins, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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