Now Is Now For Obamacare

“Now is now.”  People laugh when I say that, but it’s really true. It’s important to take advantage of the thing of the moment.  Obamacare is in the now is now stage because you have until March 3 to enroll.  Except,

And there is an exception. Health and Human Services Spokesperson Joanne Peters says, “We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to  help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment either online or over the phone.”

That means if you have technical problems or “special circumstances,” you may have a little more leeway if you make a good faith effort to start the enrollment process before the deadline.

Why should you  get health insurance?  People get sick. Accidents happen. You just never know. Insurance is a smart gamble to protect you against really high medical bills and even small ones.

It’s relatively easy to sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act.  Just go to Healthcare.gov and follow the prompts. It’s a good idea to clear your browser’s cache before you start.

You’ll find a wide range of plans that offer different health insurance options and it’s possible you may be eligible for a subsidy or maybe even Medicaid.

Medicaid was expanded in some states under the Affordable Care Act rules and those states received more money for Medicaid to help people who weren’t covered by the old rules. For example, if you don’t have a job or income but still have assets, it’s possible you’ll qualify for Medicaid.  In the past, that wasn’t the case.

You can also call and ask for help at 1-800-318-2596.

If you don’t have insurance and don’t sign up there are penalties.

PENALTY FOR NOT GETTING HEALTH INSURANCE

There is negative reinforcement to try to convince you to get health insurance during the open enrollment period that ends March 31st.

Two formulas determine how much you’ll pay. And you’ll pay whichever amount is higher.

 1. One percent of your annual household income.

 2. $95 for an adult and $47.50 for a child under 18. The maximum family penalty is $285.00

 3.  You’ll also have to pay your own health care costs until the next open enrollment period.

APPLYING OUTSIDE OF THE OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

You can only apply outside of the open enrollment period under the these circumstances:

1. You’re getting married.

2. You’re adopting a child or a child is placed in your home.

3. You’re moving to a new area that offers different health plan choices.

4. You’re losing your healthcare coverage after a divorce, because you’ve lost your job, your COBRA is expiring, or you no longer qualify for Medicaid.

 Here’s a story that was posted on the Healthcare.gov website. We think it’s worth a read.

In Sickness and In Health: My #GetCovered Story

Posted March 25, 2014

By Sarah Hecht
Chicago, Illinois

As a theater artist working part-time jobs to support myself, I couldn’t afford to buy health insurance. And that didn’t worry me – I’m 32 and never had any health problems. I’ve always taken good care of myself: I do yoga, I ride a bike, and I eat well.

Honestly, I decided to sign up for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace because I support the goal of expanding health coverage in this country, not because I thought I’d need it. I also convinced my fiancé, Diego Báez, who is a writer and adjunct professor, to enroll.

My insurance started on January 1, and it’s a good thing, too. Soon after, I started feeling ill but didn’t think too much of it. Then on January 29, I was admitted to the hospital with a ruptured appendix and ended up having to stay in the hospital for 12 days.

Without my new Marketplace plan, I don’t know how I would have been able to pay the cost of my care.

I chose a basic HMO plan and qualified for a reduced premium of only $56 a month, which is very affordable for me. You, too, can find quality affordable coverage at HealthCare.gov, where 6 out of 10 uninsured Americans can get covered for $100 per month or less – some a lot less.

Check out your options and sign up for a plan at HealthCare.gov, which is working smoothly, or CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish language version.

It’s really easy to do. With side-by-side comparisons of plans, finding one that meets your needs won’t be a problem. I didn’t have any trouble, but if you need help or prefer talking to a person, you can call 1-800-318-2596 – at any time and at any hour – and in any one of 150 languages. If you want to find in-person help in your community, go to localhelp.healthcare.gov and punch in your zip code.

There’s still time, but don’t delay! Sign up today. You have only until March 31 to enroll in a plan for coverage this year. Otherwise, you won’t be able to sign up until November for coverage that begins next year.

My ruptured appendix was a wakeup call – for me and Diego.

We’re getting married in September. This experience for us puts a new light on the phrase “in sickness and in health.”

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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.