Sept. 27, 2013

Blue Cross: How to Buy Health Insurance through the Marketplace

Marketplace open Oct. 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014, with multiple ways to shop

BATON ROUGE – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana advises people to be prepared and be patient when the health insurance marketplace, or exchange, opens Oct. 1.

“This is a time of historic change in our healthcare system, and we are here to help you understand what is taking place, work with you and offer the information and assistance you need to make the best healthcare decisions for yourselves and your families,” said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana CEO Mike Reitz.

He added, “As with any large-scale event of this magnitude, we expect to spend the first couple of weeks after the marketplace opens working with the government and other partners to identify and quickly resolve any issues so we can make the experience as smooth as possible. Please advise us as to how we can better serve you, and prepare for this as you do during tax season each year – get the necessary materials together now so your purchasing process will be fast and easy later.”

Several major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the healthcare reform law passed in 2010, go into effect this January. Most Americans will be required to have healthcare coverage or pay a fine. People who purchase their own insurance and do not get healthcare coverage through an employer or government program, such as Medicaid or Medicare, will be able to shop for plans in the marketplace. Hundreds of thousands of Louisianians will be buying health insurance for the first time.

Customers will be able to buy insurance through the online marketplace beginning Oct. 1, 2013, to have healthcare coverage effective Jan. 1, 2014. The deadline to purchase health insurance for a Jan. 1, 2014, coverage start date is Dec. 15, 2013, though the marketplace is scheduled to remain open through March 31, 2014.

Advance premium tax credits, or “subsidies,” will be available for people buying health insurance through the marketplace who earn between 100 and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to help them pay for their health insurance premiums. Under current guidelines, 400 percent of the FPL is an annual income of $45,984 for a single adult and $94,224 for a family of four.

People who plan to shop for insurance in the marketplace and see whether they might qualify for a subsidy will need to have the following pieces of information available:

  • A personal email address for the person who will be purchasing the insurance policy.
  • The Social Security numbers of all members of the family/household who will get coverage through that policy (such as the person’s spouse, children or other dependent relatives).
  • Employer and income information for all members of the household who will get coverage through that policy, such as pay stubs and W-2 forms.
  • Policy numbers for any health insurance coverage they have already.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has added an online premium calculator to its healthcare reform site to help Louisianians estimate what they could pay for a silver-level insurance plan next year and whether they might qualify for a subsidy.

Go to and enter your household size (the number of people, including adults and children, in your family) and your household income before taxes in the boxes indicated. You will get a real-time estimate on what your insurance coverage would cost next year, as well as if you might qualify for a subsidy.

Customers have several options for purchasing health insurance through the marketplace. They can:

  • Buy online at
  • Call an agent or broker
  • Work with a marketplace navigator – visit to locate a navigator in your area
  • Call the marketplace hotline, open 24/7, at 1-800-318-2596, TTY 1-855-889-4325.
    • A marketplace hotline for people who get health insurance through small businesses/groups is available at 1-800-706-7893, TTY 1-800-706-7915. This hotline is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time.
  • Call a particular insurance carrier. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana representatives are available at 1-800-363-9221.

Blue Cross is one of four Louisiana health insurance companies that will sell products in the state’s marketplace. It is the only company on the Louisiana marketplace offering plans from all four metal, or pricing, levels to residents in all areas of the state.

For more information about the coming changes under the ACA and what the options are for healthcare coverage, shoppers are encouraged to visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana healthcare reform site,

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and is governed by a Louisiana Board of Directors.

The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices around the state, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.

Learn more on the company’s website at or visit its social media hub to connect via Facebook, Twitter and more.