Advocates say it's already paying off for Pennsylvanians in lower costs.By Jon Delano

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In Pennsylvania, it was once called http://www.healthcare.gov under Obamacare.

Now it’s known as http://www.pennie.com, and it’s the state’s new marketplace for health insurance.

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Pennie, which just closed enrollment for 2021, is about to reopen for uninsured Pennsylvanians during this pandemic.

If you don’t have health insurance from your employer — or lost your job and insurance during the pandemic and don’t qualify for low-income medical assistance — Pennie is where you sign up for affordable health insurance.

This is Pennie’s first year, and its advocates say it’s already paying off for Pennsylvanians in lower costs.

“Premiums in the individual market plans on Pennie are on average about five percent lower than they would have been had we stayed on healthcare.gov,” Zachary Sherman, the executive director of Pennie, told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Thursday.

And there are special discounts for many, even for families of four with incomes of nearly $105,000.

“About nine out of 10 of our customers receive financial assistance. And for those who receive it, it’s about $515 per month,” says Sherman.

Closed for enrollment on Jan. 15, Pennie is reopening on Feb. 15 for three months, under guidance from an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.

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“There’s more that we can do as Pennsylvanians serving Pennsylvanians to connect people to the protection that comes from having health insurance,” said Sherman.

“It’s a good shopping tool for people to use to see what’s out there,” says Liz Kennon, an independent health insurance broker.

Kennon says Pennie’s website is easier to use, but she wishes Pennie offered more insurance options on the site.

“Right now in western Pennsylvania, UPMC and Highmark are the only two insurance companies offering these individual plans,” she said.

Sherman says seven health insurance companies offer plans across the state but only two here, so far.

“We’re always eager and interested in having more people come into the market,” he said.

Click here for more on Pennie. The Office of Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wll be holding a virtual session to show people how to get affordable coverage.

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