Before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) became law, many Americans had difficulty accessing affordable health insurance. They could often be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, charged more for plans, or dropped midway through treatment due to an error on their application.
Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes it simpler for people to access health insurance through the Marketplace. This applies especially to those without employer-based coverage and those whose income falls below 400% of the federal poverty level.
During the enrollment period, which runs November 1 through December 15, Americans can apply for a subsidy, modify their marketplace plan or renew coverage. They also have the option to opt-out at any time by logging into their account and using the End My Coverage link.
Furthermore, the Affordable Care Act requires employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to provide health insurance to at least 95 percent of their workforce and dependents up to age 26. Employers who fail to meet this requirement could face a fine.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has also enabled many people with pre-existing conditions to secure health coverage without worrying about out-of-pocket expenses. This ensures that they can access quality healthcare without financial strain.
Switching to your employer’s plan
If you currently have group health insurance through your employer, under ACA rules you can switch to another plan through the federal or state healthcare marketplace (the Marketplace).
If your employer terminates your job and offers a high-deductible plan that doesn’t cover many expenses, you could potentially switch to a cheaper, lower deductible option. Furthermore, it’s possible that you will qualify for subsidies which would help cover the cost of the new health plan.
Typically, you can only enroll in a new plan during Open Enrollment and Special Enrollment periods that run from November 1 to January 15. For more information, contact your HR department or the person responsible for benefits at your company.
Losing your job
Losing a job can be an immense life altering event that may be difficult to adjust to. It may bring up feelings of frustration, depression, worry and anger.
The good news is that you have multiple options when it comes to finding health insurance coverage. You can purchase health insurance through a government marketplace, join your spouse’s plan, or purchase individual coverage on your own.
Depending on your state, you may also qualify for Medicaid – a federal program that provides free or subsidized health care to low-income individuals.
Another option is signing up for COBRA, a law that allows you to keep your employer-provided health insurance after losing your job. Unfortunately, it can be costly.
Employers with 20 or more workers must offer COBRA coverage to employees who have either lost their jobs, or become ineligible for health insurance through an employer-sponsored plan. Under COBRA, you can keep your coverage for up to 18 months; however, you are responsible for covering any costs usually covered by your employer plus a 2% administrative fee.
Enrolling in a new plan
Most Americans enroll for health insurance during the annual open enrollment period in November. However, certain life events (like marriage, having a baby or losing coverage through your spouse’s employer plan) may allow you to enroll outside this timeframe.
Enrolling in a new health plan can significantly alter your coverage and benefits. That is why it’s essential to understand how to compare Obamacare plans and evaluate your coverage so you can make an informed decision for you and your family.
Obtaining individual or family coverage through the Marketplace is the simplest, most convenient way to obtain new ACA coverage. It also provides a great option for those who have had difficulty locating affordable alternatives elsewhere.
To begin your new coverage, log into your Marketplace account and start the application process. After you’ve finished filling out the application and making your first premium payment, you’ll receive a member ID card confirming coverage.