Consumers can find help in navigating Health Insurance Marketplace

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Those considering options for purchasing insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which was created under the federal Affordable Care Act, will find comprehensive information on a newly revised website developed by Penn State Extension specialists.

The Health Insurance Marketplace is a unique opportunity for previously uninsured consumers, small businesses and others to shop for health insurance and compare plans at one location. The open enrollment period for 2016 began Nov. 1 and runs to Dec. 31, with coverage beginning as early as Jan. 1.

Designed to be a one-stop resource, the Penn State Extension Health Insurance Literacy website provides extensive resources that are just a keystroke or phone call away for Pennsylvania shoppers who want to do their homework before deciding which policy to buy, explained consumer-issues specialist Cathy Bowen, professor of agricultural and extension education in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

"We have consolidated many of the key reliable resources for consumers in a no-frills format," she said, noting that most of the references are from the federal government and nonprofit agencies and provide unbiased information.

New this year are two interactive maps, one pointing Pennsylvanians to facts about the residents in their county who have purchased health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, and one that provides data on each county's health status and ranking among Pennsylvania's 67 counties.

"This website was created to shorten the search time for information and to help consumers find resources they may need to make informed decisions and to understand how to use health insurance," Bowen said.

The Health Insurance Literacy website can be found at http://extension.psu.edu/health/insurance.

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Last Updated November 10, 2015