…what can you do about it?
With the passing of the Afforadable Care Act, the US government theoretically made it easier for the average uninsured American to have guaranteed health coverage, by providing affordable, easily accessed individual health plans. The nation is quickly finding, however, that there are many hoops to jump through and obstacles to tackle before crossing the insurance finish line – and here’s to hoping you don’t hurt yourself on those hoops and obstacles along the way!
A close friend of mine (we’ll call him Joey) recently quit his job to move to another state, and after a grace period of 30 days of extra health care coverage, he went on the Health Insurance Marketplace to get health coverage. He went on their [supposed] handy-dandy website, and tried to sign up. After encountering error after error, he called their 24/7 toll-free line for help.
That was 6 months ago. He is still uninsured.
For many healthy young people in their mid-20s and 30s like Joey, having health insurance is more of a necessary burden to avoid tax penalties. However, for people who rely heavily on health care — e.g. who are clinically depressed and are running out of medication and missing therapy — the hiccups in the Obamacare system can have a grueling effect.
Here are some lesser known facts about Obamacare that can help you make a decision regarding health coverage, and speed up the process if it’s lagging:
1. Coverage is retroactive to your application date. While it is known that “The only way to avoid the per month fee for not having insurance is to obtain minimum essential coverage and maintain it throughout the year or to qualify for an exemption” (Source), most people aren’t aware that the exemption is “activated” as soon as you put in an application. This means that if you’re applying for health coverage to avoid the penalty, but are still waiting to hear back from the marketplace, as long as you’ve actually gone through the process and gotten on the queue, you won’t have to face any penalties for the time you aren’t covered.
2. There are many exceptions to open enrollment. Open enrollment is mid-November to mid-February of each year, but there are many qualifying events that open a special enrollment period. Such events include: moving, having a baby, losing a job, involuntary loss of coverage, gaining or losing a dependent, and many more. You can use the screener survey to find out if you qualify.
3. You can expedite the enrollment process if you have “sufficient need”. One thing Joey discovered through trial and tribulation is that if you have any reason for urgent need for health care, you can move up the queue in the marketplace. The easiest way to do this is by contacting a contacting a representative: 1-800-318-2596 / TTY: 1-855-889-4325.
You can also search for local help, where you can find local facilities to aid you in the health coverage process.
The process of obtaining health care can be time-consuming and confusing, but hopefully these tips will guide you in the right direction. The marketplace really offers a huge variety of customizable health care plans — you just need a little bit of patience and maneuvering to get through it!