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The Affordable Care Act: After the Deadline

by Steve Scearcy

The December first deadline for the reworked Affordable Care Act enrollment web site has passed. So, what can you expect? The site works more efficiently and individuals should be able to navigate the site and input their information in ten to fifteen minutes.  There are a couple of important items to note: 

(1)   The site has a limited number of enrollees it can accommodate at one time. If you attempt to engage the site when it is maxed out, you will be placed in a cue and be notified by email when space is available. 

(2)   The December 15th deadline for application has been extended to December 23rd. This is the deadline for individuals that want coverage to begin on January 1, 2014. However, it is important to note that even with this extension, the first premium is due on or before December 31st.  So, if you need coverage by January 1, 2014 it is still a good idea to move as quickly as possible. 

            Individuals that received cancellation notices because their policies did not meet certain minimum coverage requirements of The Affordable Care Act now may keep their coverage according to the President’s announced fix. In many cases, insured’s have received letters of reinstatement. If individuals have not received a letter at this time they should immediately contact their insurance company to determine their status.  Whatever the status, it’s important to remember that the new law mandates health insurance coverage to a specific standard. An individual is not obligated to get insurance from the exchange. There could be other options.

            All health insurance policies must comply with The Affordable Care Act. That means there are certain essential benefits that must be included like drug coverage and maternity care. And individuals may not be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Insurers who sell policies both on and off the exchanges must sell the same plan for the same price.

            The main attraction of the exchange is that plans sold there may come with subsidies, if the individual or the family qualifies.  The attractions for going outside of the exchange include getting the exact coverage needed and selecting a plan that includes your own doctor or hospital.

            Here’s what you need to remember:

  1. Time is critical, there are deadlines.
  2. Investigate what the Exchange has to offer. Is the price right? Do you get to keep your doctor?       

            The exchange does offer a tax subsidy for those that qualify but the coverage offered may or may not include your medical professionals.  Also the only way to know if the exchange is priced right is to compare rates. It is important to look at all options as the face of health care changes in America.  

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