Americans began enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace this October. Several states have exceeded enrollment targets. However, the federal Health Insurance Marketplace site, Healthcare.gov, continues to have problems. Many Americans are confused about how to enroll or whether they need to enroll. This post provides helpful information about getting access to the Health Insurance Marketplace.
There are some important enrollment deadlines. December 23, 2013 is the deadline to enroll for coverage that will begin January 1, 2014. However, people have until March 31, 2014 to enroll in a 2014 health plan. People who do not have health coverage after the March 31 deadline may be charged a penalty. Exceptions will be made for qualifying life events such as childbirth. People with low incomes may be eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Most Americans who already have health insurance can keep their current plan.
Healthcare.gov is not the only way to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace. There are at least five ways to enroll:
- Apply on-line through Healthcare.gov or the state Health Insurance Marketplace.
- Apply by phone by calling 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).
- Apply in person with the help of a trained counselor in the local area including on-line chat availability.
- Apply by mail by downloading the paper application form and instructions from Healthcare.gov.
- Major drugstore chains including CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid are providing information and assistance for people who want to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Walgreens has partnered with GoHealth in providing an insurance website with the same rates and services as the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace.
Medicare is not part of the Health Insurance Marketplace. People covered by Medicare do not need to make any changes to their health plans. The deadline for Medicare open enrollment is December 7, 2013. Seniors and other people eligible for Medicare can get free insurance advising from the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
I hope this information is helpful to anyone with questions about enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Susan Penner is the author of Economics and Financial Management for Nurses and Nurse Leaders, 2nd ed.