Breaking down the Multi-State Plan Program

Obamacare across state lines: The Multi-State Plan Program

Updated:
This map of the U.S. shows which states currently offer Multi-State Plan (MSP) coverage. States in blue denote the presence of MSP coverage. States in gray denote that there currently isn't any MSP coverage. (Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management) This map of the U.S. shows which states currently offer Multi-State Plan (MSP) coverage. States in blue denote the presence of MSP coverage. States in gray denote that there currently isn't any MSP coverage. (Source: U.S. Office of Personnel Management)

(RNN) - Americans shopping for insurance on any of the healthcare exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must get coverage in the state of their primary residence, according to healthcare.gov.

Most people live in the state where they work. But what about people who live in one state and work in another? What about retirees or transient workers who spend summers or winters in different states?

Those people will want to get the Multi-State Plan (MSP). Since MSPs are only available in 30 states and the District of Columbia right now, consumers who live in states that do not yet have MSPs should enroll for health coverage in the state they consider their primary residence but should bring up the matter with their insurance provider.

An MSP allows individuals to seek non-emergency care from any healthcare provider in their network and emergency care in any healthcare facility, according to MediCoverage.

The director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is required to establish two MSPs and offer them through the state exchanges. One of the MSPs has to be offered by a nonprofit organization, and one of the two MSPs cannot provide abortion coverage, according to a report by the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Both programs have to meet the same federal requirements as other health plans offered on the state exchanges - they must offer the required health benefits established under the ACA and set premiums that don't discriminate based on pre-existing conditions.

Currently, MSPs are only available in 30 states and the District of Columbia, but the ACA directs that MSP options be extended to all 50 states by 2017, according to the OPM.

The only company approved for MSPs in 2014 is the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which offers more than 150 MSPs in 30 states and the District of Columbia. For three states - Alaska, New Hampshire and West Virginia - the MSPs offer additional insurance plans whereas, without the MSPs, there would be only one insurance plan option in those states.

MSPs have been available on the state exchanges during open enrollment, which began Oct. 1, 2013. Coverage began on Jan. 1, 2014. While reviewing plans, it may be a good idea to speak with a representative to make sure you have chosen the correct plan. The toll-free number is 800-318-2596 and can be found on healthcare.gov's contact page.

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