Fall isn’t just the time when kids go back to school; it also means enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner. Starting on October 1, people without health care insurance -- including 10.2 million Latinos -- will be able to shop through the new health care marketplace to compares prices and plans and get covered. No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Health insurance covers these costs and protects you from very high expenses.
With open enrollment less than a month away, this is a great opportunity to review some of the key components of the Affordable Care Act and the health care marketplace that are important to know before October 1.
How does the health care law affect me?
- If you already have health insurance, you now have access to expanded preventative services like checkups, cancer screenings, mammograms and contraception at NO additional cost.
- Young adults, including nearly one million young Latinos, can now remain on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26.
- Many seniors will save hundreds of dollars each year on their prescription drugs.
- Health insurance companies will no longer be able to deny you coverage or charge you more because of a pre-existing health conditions, including pregnancy or disability.
- Beginning 2014, most people are required to have health coverage. If they don’t, they may have to pay a fee.
- If you need help finding a plan, several kinds of help will be available to give you personalized assistance with the process.
What is the new Health Insurance Marketplace?
The Marketplace, also known as the insurance “exchange,” is a new, simple way to find health coverage that fits your budget and meets your needs. With one application, you can see all your options and enroll. You can comparison shop in an online marketplace, just like you would for cell phone plans or plane tickets. This tool will help you save money on your monthly premium for private health insurance and you will be able to find out if you qualify to reduce out-of-pocket costs. You can learn more about the new health insurance marketplace through live chat online or calling toll-free 24/7 at 1-800-318-2596.
How can I save money with the Health Insurance Marketplace?
You’ll be able to save on medical coverage in three essential ways:
- You can potentially save money on monthly premiums when enrolling in a private health plan because ALL plans will cover essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions.
- You can also reduce health care costs because you may be eligible for a reduction of out of pocket expenses like copays, coinsurance and deductibles.
- Your child could get coverage under Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Some states will expand Medicaid eligibility in 2014, so your children could qualify even if your family has been previously rejected.
How do I enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace?
When open enrollment begins October 1, 2013, you can go to the Marketplace and see the health coverage options that meet your needs and fit your budget. There are four simple steps you need to follow to sign up for health insurance:
- Open an account: Open an account online by providing basic information.
- Fill out the online application: Beginning on October 1, 2013 log into your account to provide more detailed information about you and your family including income, household size and more details to learn about the coverage, subsidies and tax credits that would be available to you.
- Compare options and Choose a Plan: You'll be able to see all the options you qualify for, including private insurance plans and free and low-cost coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Marketplace will tell you if you qualify for lower costs on your monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs on deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. You’ll see details on costs and benefits before you choose a plan.
- Enroll: After you choose a plan, you can enroll online and decide how you pay your premiums to your insurance company. If you have any questions, there’s plenty of live and online help along the way. Once you select a plan that meets your needs, sign up and coverage will begin as early as January 1, 2014.
Don’t forget - 3 key dates you'll want to mark on your calendar:
October 1, 2013: Marketplace open enrollment starts
January 1, 2014: Health coverage can start
March 31, 2014: Open enrollment ends
Katherine Vargas is the Director of Hispanic Media