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The roll out of the Affordable Care Act has not gone as smoothly as everyone had hoped. With the government shutdown, a dysfunctioning website, and false advertising to consumers, many people are confused about where to get insurance or if they can even enroll for insurance right now. Here are some ACA facts to clear up all the confusing headlines:
1. Mixed family status: many families fear enrolling in health insurance because they live in a mixed status household. The ACA is NOT acting as immigration control. Encourage families to enroll. To learn more about this, and to view an ACA and Immigration FAQ list, visit the NASW Advocacy Announcement.
2. Healthcare.gov website: The website is accessible now (See: Web Site is Improved and Improving)! You should easily be able to create an account, browse plans and enroll. Remember only TWO companies are offering plans in NC- Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and Coventry. BCBS is offering 26 plans in all 100 counties and Coventry is offering 25 plans in 39 counties. In order to receive subsidies to help you pay for health insurance, you must enroll through the healthcare.gov website.
3. Misleading websites: Several fraudulent websites have been created to help stir the controversy regarding the ACA enrollment process. The Better Business Bureau has gotten over 1,000 reported scams regarding the ACA. Make sure you ONLY sign up from healthcare.gov or directly from BCBS or Coventry. If you are not sure if the site is reliable, report it to the Department of Insurance in NC.
4. Where can I get in-person help? Navigators received over 20 hours of training on Federal AND NC specific training. They are ready to provide in-person assistance to anyone who may need it. How can consumers get connected with these agencies? Call 1-855-733-3711 Mon-Fri 9-5 or Tuesdays and Thursdays 6-9. Enroll America‘s NC offices can also get you connected with help.
5. What happens if my coverage changes during this enrollment time OR after the enrollment period closes in March? If you have a qualifying event- childbirth, marriage, divorce or lose your job, etc. you can apply for a special enrollment period so you do not have to face a penalty for not having insurance.
6. How long is enrollment? Open enrollment runs until March 31st, 2014! If you do NOT enroll during this time, you will pay a penalty and may not be able to enroll until the next open enrollment date in 2015. For more information, see Key Dates.
7. What about Medicaid coverage? You can enroll in Medicaid at any time. If you qualify, the healthcare.gov website will let you know once you finish the application. To find out more, visit the NC Medicaid Website.
8. What if I have Medicare coverage? Nothing changes, you have insurance and you do not need to enroll in a plan. If you need to enroll in Medicare, open enrollment runs until December 7th, 2013! Find out more here.
If you are a provider, you can help distribute information. See our last ACA post What Providers Need to Know.