There’s a lot of news and information out there about the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and it’s hard to know what is true and what is grandstanding. I’ve pulled together a few sites that you can rely on.
Where can I find accurate information about the new law? The Federal Government runs HealthCare.gov. This site is not about propaganda or persuading you to vote for something, this is where you can find facts about the new law. This site has a tool that lets you answer a few questions – some might seem personal, like your age and income, but then it gives you the questions and answers most relevant to your situation. There are deceptive sites out there trying to take advantage of the unwary, so be sure you go to HealthCare.gov specifically and not some other site.
Where can I buy this “new” health insurance? If you live in one of the 27 states that has opted to not participate in the new program, HealthCare.gov will help you find health insurance that best meets your needs and income. These 27 states include Texas, Florida & Arizona.
As of May 2013, 18 states were approved to run their own marketplaces to help residents buy health insurance and 7 states opted for, and were approved for, “partnership marketplaces” where they work with the Federal Government on their marketplace. To see the list and find your state’s marketplace, you can go directly to http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Fact-Sheets-and-FAQs/state-marketplaces.html
I’ve heard that there are a lot of things that my new health insurance has to provide with no co-pay or deductible, and some of them sound pretty crazy. What’s the real list? Healthcare.gov has the answer to that. Insurance that is bought through a Marketplace must include a list of services for no charge, and the list can be found here. Plans also have to cover most contraceptive measures and counseling.
I haven’t been able to get health insurance in the past, no one will cover me or its just too expensive, why should I bother now? One of the pieces of the law that I am most excited about is that health insurance companies can no longer exclude you because of pre-existing conditions. They also can’t charge you more because of those conditions. Did you know that some health insurance companies will refuse to enroll a new client if she is pregnant? Pregnancy has been considered a “pre-existing condition” and has been the reason many people have been turned down when they apply for health insurance. This now applies to many plans outside of the marketplaces, as well as all the plans found in the marketplaces.
I have a health insurance plan, but it doesn’t cover my pre-existing condition. Will that change? Not necessarily, no. In some cases existing health insurance doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions, and they won’t have to. However, you can look in the health exchange for your state and find out what coverage is available to you. Any of these plans will have to cover your pre-existing condition.
I believe that “living green” means staying away from things like vaccinations and antibiotics, so why do I need health insurance? Health insurance covers a lot more than vaccinations and antibiotics. When’s the last time someone you know broke a bone? Was in an accident? Or got cancer? As much as we’d like to try, living a healthy, green life, doesn’t prevent bad things from happening. Everyone should see a doctor regularly for preventative care. Our health insurance covers therapists and acupuncture in addition to the “usual stuff.” In certain situations you can get “catastrophic coverage” which means that it covers the “essential health benefits” but then has a very high deductible. However, if you get in a situation where you have massive bills, such as a serious accident or illness, coverage will kick in.
Are the new health plans as complicated as I’ve heard? Well, I’ve yet to see health plans that are not complicated. The New York Times has a great article with a lot of information and advice about choosing a plan. Just a few highlights: The Marketplaces list what providers (doctors, etc) are covered under the plans and what medicines. If you currently have a doctor you want to stick with or you’re currently taking medication, check to see if those are covered specifically. For example, Blue Cross through your workplace’s insurance may not have the exact same coverage as Blue Cross through the Marketplace.
Don’t Procrastinate. Choosing health insurance is not simple, there are important decisions you need to make about money and about your family’s health. Remember that even healthy and green families have accidents and there is not always someone else to blame. Earlier this summer my son fell while roller skating and got a buckle fracture. He needed x-rays and then to have it set by a specialist. Knowing that we had health insurance that would cover the x-rays and setting made it much easier to follow my instinct and go to Urgent Care in the first place.
There is a lot of information to digest and this takes time. Health insurance has an open enrollment period and while 6 months sounds like a long time, the insurance will start on January 1st if you sign up before then.
Do it now. Go to HealthCare.gov and click on “See your options” to find out what is available for you.
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