HealthCare.Gov Seems To Work Now!
Here’s the good news. The new Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov, courtesy of the Affordable Care Act, is functioning. One of our editors signed up yesterday with minimal frustration because it took awhile for the confirmation email to come through. If you plan to use it, set aside at least an hour to go through the simple questions and browse plans. You might want to call the insurers that offer these plans if you have any questions.
Some Tips About Using The Health Insurance Marketplace
- The system tells you if you qualify for subsidies, and it automatically applies them to premiums.
- You are allowed to apply your tax credit (if any) directly to your premiums.
- After you select a plan, apparently you have to wait for further direction from the insurers in order to pay and complete your enrollment. The editor who signed up yesterday has not gotten that yet, but now it’s in the private insurer’s hands (hopefully).
- The site says you need to pay the first month’s premium (or your portion, if any) by January 1st in order to get covered by January 1st. This is typical of any insurance contract. You have to pay first.
According to news sources, the deadline to sign up for January 1st coverage by marketplace plans has been extended to 12/23/2013. If you are still in the dark, you might want to read this guide to understanding the health insurance marketplace.
Some states have their own marketplaces, but you can still start at HealthCare.gov. The system will direct you to the right site to sign up. Other states, like Texas, rely upon the federal exchange. Even if you live in a state without a state health insurance marketplace, you are free to use the federal one.
Who Can Use Health Insurance Exchanges Provided By The Affordable Care Act?
This system is to provide coverage mostly for the following types of people in the U.S.:
- Those who need self-employed health insurance
- Those employees or contract workers without coverage from their jobs
- Unemployed, early retirees, etc. without group coverage
- The children and other dependents of the groups listed above
- Small business owners and employees
Some people might have individual health insurance that are still active, and they are free to keep it. If an individual’s insurer canceled their plan because it did not conform to the new requirements, they may have to turn to the exchange too.
Short-Term Health Insurance As An Alternative To ObamaCare?
Additionally, insurers still seem to be promoting short-term health insurance as an alternative to Obamacare, but this seems pretty risky. ST medical plans can cancel after the period is up if the insured person actually has the nerve to make big claims against them.
What Kind Of Health Plans Are Listed?
These medial plans are provided by private insurance companies, but there are a variety to choose from. First, you decide which level of plan to choose, and these include the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans. Of course, Bronze plans are supposed to be cheapest with the lowest level of required coverage, and Platinum plans are the most expensive with the most coverage. It seems as if subsidies start with Silver plans.
Then you can choose between HMOs, PPOs, and HSA plans:
Typically, HMO plans are the most restrictive, but they also provide the highest levels of coverage within those restrictions. PPO plans are more flexible, but they might be more expensive and provide lower levels of coverage for some services. HSA plans worth with major medical and health savings accounts to provide some tax advantages.
That’s the very quick summary, and you might be prudent to read more. These exchange plan policies are the same types of major medical insurance that most Americans are familiar with, but they are simply provided through the health insurance marketplace.
Apparently, some dental plans also provide dental care. This was sort of confusing for the editor who signed up, but you can read more about dental insurance with marketplace plans here.