Despite the challenges, the Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Americans gain access to the medical care we all need. Approximately 10 million signed up for health insurance in 2014 through a federal or state health care exchange. It's time to get ready for the 2015 plan year. Even if you like the health insurance coverage you currently have, it is a good idea to review all the plan options once per year. You may find an even better plan that meets your needs.
State Resources Guide
The Children’s Health Insurance Program or CHIP is a state funded program that provides health insurance to children. Children who are not eligible for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance through and employer or private plan, may be eligible for CHIP. CHIP programs are available in every state and the District of Columbia.
To find out if you are eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), call 1-877-543-7669 or log on to http://www.insurekidsnow.gov to obtain program information in your state. Also, remember to ask if the state has a program that can help you pay premiums for an employer-sponsored or other private health insurance plan.
Getting Unstuck--Choose a Plan
Good news. More people are successfully accessing healthcare.gov, and reviewing their state's health insurance plan options. Not so good news. Some of these people, especially the younger ones and those who never had health insurance, are overwhelmed by the task of choosing a health plan. The number of plans available overwhelms them. They find the plan terminology (e.g., deductible and out-of-pocket maximum) difficult to understand. And they do not know what their actual out-of-pocket costs will be. Fixated on numbers and terminology, they freeze.
Here are two things you can do to get unstuck.
When determining your health care needs:
- List any specific health conditions you have—diabetes, heart disease
- Consider your lifestyle—do you engage in activities that may increase the likelihood of physical injury
- Think about medical care you received or needed during the last 12- to 24-months
- Make a list of prescription drugs you take
- If possible, talk to your doctor about your projected health care needs for the next 12-months
- Make a rough estimate of what you spent out-of-pocket for medical care (with or without insurance) in the last 12-monnths
- Use a free online health risk assessment, like the one from
Exchanges - 5 Key Questions Answered
A quick look at any social media site and you may conclude that the “complexity” of the Health Care Reform Exchanges is confusing to the average American. People are overwhelmed and do not know what, if anything, they must do. Others think that efforts to repeal the law will eventually work and they will not have to do anything. The reality is that the Health Care Reform Exchanges are here and for the vast majority of people finding insurance on them will be just like enrolling in an employer-provided plan. They will have several plans to compare in terms of benefits covered and price.
To make your journey through the Exchanges as carefree as possible, prepare for any challenges you think you may encounter. With preparation and patience, you can prevent a lot of fear and frustration.
Q1. How will the Exchanges collect monthly premiums (the amount you must pay for health insurance coverage) if I do not have a checking account?
A1. Insurers on the Exchanges are required to accept the following payments: money orders, pre-paid debit cards, cashier’s checks, paper checks and bank account transfers. Verify at time of enrollment that the insurer will accept whatever form of payment you will make. Also, if your means of payment changes in the future, let the insurer know.
Q2. Will plans on the Exchanges provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions?