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Health Insurance Marketplace To Open For Enrollment, But Feds Have No Money For Awareness

401(K) 2012

In about one month, a key part of the Affordable Care Act kicks off nationwide. The health insurance marketplace opens for enrollment -- and consumers can shop for an insurance plan from what could be hundreds of options. 

This week, the Missouri Foundation for Health is leading a Missouri-wide campaign to raise awareness about the marketplace. States had the option to run their own marketplaces or let the federal government do it for them. Missouri, along with 26 other states, chose the latter. 

Ryan Barker, the Foundation’s vice president for health policy, said the federal government never expected to run the marketplaces in so many states and doesn’t have the funds to raise effective awareness about the program in all of those states. He said that's why the Foundation is stepping in.

"The foundation's board really said this is really important to our population and we're going to step forward and put some resources and staff time behind this,” said Barker

Meanwhile, the federal government has announced a $1.8 million grant to two other Missouri organizations to help Missourians navigate the marketplace.

In addition to that effort, the Missouri Foundation for Health is spending about $8 million dollars to disseminate information about the marketplace. About $5 million of those dollars have been awarded to 17 different regional nonprofits who will do the hands-on work to help Missourians sign up for the program. 

The Affordable Care Act requires every American to have insurance coverage by January 1, 2014, or face a penalty. 

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