Health care questions & answers


This October, your state will unroll its new health insurance marketplace, or “exchange.” This new marketplace is where, if your employer doesn’t provide adequate health insurance, you’ll be able to shop for more affordable private insurance.

Why should you buy insurance from the marketplace?

Private insurance plans sold in the marketplace will be easy to compare. They’ll all be written in simple language, and you’ll be able to see which one is best for you. It is also the only place to get federal subsidies to help make private insurance affordable.

How can you say the marketplace will be affordable?

If you are below 400 percent of poverty ($94,000 for a family of 4), the maximum you will pay for your health insurance is 9.5 percent of your income. The rest will be paid by a federal subsidy.

What if I have a “preexisting condition?”

In the marketplace, insurance companies will take everyone. No rejections, no health questions, no checking your medical records. You’ll get charged the same as everyone else with a similar age, location, and family size. And the same federal subsidies will apply, to help keep it affordable.

Can I keep the insurance I have now?

Yes, you’re free to purchase any private insurance you choose or stick with insurance your employer provides. But it will have to meet some minimum standards of coverage.

Send me questions of your own and I’ll do my best to answer them for you (

The Center for Rural Affairs was formed by rural Nebraskans concerned about family farms and rural communities and works to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Steph Larsen can be reached at: