When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2010, states began launching health insurance marketplaces called exchanges. HealthSource Rhode Island is the exchange for Rhode Island.

Through HealthSource you can:

  • find a plan
  • apply for coverage
  • learn about tax credits
  • pay for coverage

Keep reading to learn more about HealthSource and its benefits.

All HealthSource plans must offer the following essential services:

  • doctor office visits
  • immunizations
  • emergency medical services
  • inpatient hospital services
  • maternity and newborn care
  • mental health services
  • substance abuse treatment
  • prescription drugs (there may be some limits depending on the plan)
  • rehabilitative services
  • habilitative services (occupational, physical, and speech therapies)
  • diagnostic lab studies
  • preventive and wellness care
  • dental care
  • pediatric care

HealthSource has 20 health insurance plans. As of 2016, there are three providers:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island
  • Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island
  • UnitedHealthcare

Within each plan are three tiers of coverage. These include:

  • bronze plan: covers 60 percent of health costs
  • silver plan: covers 70 percent of health costs
  • gold plan: covers 80 percent of health costs

A premium is the amount you pay for your plan, regardless of the medical services you use. In most cases, you pay your premium each month.

Lower premium plans will have higher deductibles. The deductible is the amount you pay before insurance covers the remaining costs. These plans also offer fewer benefits, and larger out-of-pocket costs. These are the costs that include your deductible, copayments, and coinsurance.

Gold plans offer more benefits but with higher premiums. Your choice of plan depends on your budget and your healthcare needs.

A catastrophic health plan is also available. This type of plan has a low premium but high out-of-pocket costs and doesn’t usually cover copays or coinsurance. Catastrophic health plans are available for adults under the age of 30 with lower incomes.

Dental coverage is also offered and can be purchased from:

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island
  • Delta Dental
  • Guardian
  • Dentegra

Monthly premiums for a 25-year-old range from $167 a month for a bronze Blue Cross plan to $283 a month for a gold plan. For a 45-year-old, the monthly premium ranges from $240 for a bronze plan to $408 for a gold plan. Copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles vary.

The federal poverty level (FPL) can also play a role. If you or your family is considered within FPL limits you may receive health coverage assistance. Below are some of the 2016 FPL requirements:

  • single adults making $11,880 per year
  • family of two with an income of $16,020 per year
  • family of four with an income of $24,300 per year

Adults living at or below 133 percent of the poverty level, and pregnant women living at or below 190 percent of the FPL, may qualify for Medicaid in Rhode Island. States can accept additional funds from the federal government to expand Medicaid.

More federal financial protection provisions include a maximum annual out-of-pocket cost of $7,150 for individuals and $14,300 for families. Capping these costs can help decrease the risk of bankruptcy due to high medical bills.

If your income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level but you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you may qualify for a premium tax credit. This is a subsidy that would help pay for part of your insurance. On average, individuals who earn about $47,520 a year, or less, qualify. For a family of four, the eligible income level increases to about $97,200 or less.

The percentage of your costs that this subsidy would cover depends on income level and the cost of a second-tier silver plan where you live. This silver plan is used as a baseline. The ACA was designed so everyone could afford a silver plan, regardless of how expensive the healthcare rates may be where you live.

For example, if you are a single adult and your income is $32,500 a year (273 percent of the poverty level), the most you’ll have to pay for a second-tier silver plan is about 9 percent of your income. This averages to about $2,925 a year, or $244 a month. You can choose a plan other than the second-tier silver plan and use your tax credit, but the subsidy amount will stay the same. This means a gold plan would cost you more, even if you use a subsidy to cover some of the cost.

Some people may also be eligible for a cost-sharing subsidy. This subsidy is for silver plans only and reduces the total out-of-pocket cost of a plan. People who have household incomes between 100 and 250 percent of the poverty level may qualify for this subsidy.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has a free calculator that can also help you determine subsidies.

HealthSource has a grid that organizes plan costs by age, and lists whether the plan is gold, silver, bronze, or catastrophic. If you use a premium tax subsidy to cover part of your health insurance, the silver plan is the benchmark for how much you will pay. If choose a higher (gold) or lower (bronze) plan, you must calculate how the different costs of those plans change the amount you’ll pay.

For example, a 25-year-old who purchases the Blue Cross Blue Shield silver plan may pay a monthly premium of about $235 and be subject to a $4,900 individual annual deductible for services. If that same individual elects a gold plan with a $1,000 deductible, the monthly premium increases to $338. Regardless of the plan, the subsidy remains the same. That means the maximum cost difference to the individual is $103 per month, which is the difference between the two premiums.

To learn more about HealthSource, visit the website. You can also call 1-855-840-HSRI (4774). Open enrollment lasts from November 1st to January 31st. The earlier you sign up, the sooner your coverage kicks in.

In Rhode Island, health plans don’t renew automatically. It’s important to keep tabs on your enrollment and ask questions early.