National Consumers League

Health

NCL Health Issues

Big changes in health care this fall

attention open in a new window

health care reformThis fall, there will be a new way to buy health insurance. NCL takes a look at what it means for you. October 1 marks the beginning of a new way to buy health insurance, put into place by the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” The ACA increases health care coverage for many Americans, even those who were previously underinsured or living without insurance.

 

Consumers can now buy health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Here, you can sign up for health care coverage and see apples-to-apples comparisons of costs and coverage between plans that fit your needs. Plans on the Marketplace will offer core set of essential health benefits like doctor visits, preventive care, maternity care, hospitalization, prescription drugs, and more

What: The Health Insurance Marketplace allows consumers to sign up for health care coverage and see apples-to-apples comparisons of costs and coverage to find the plan that is best for you. You can see what your premium, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs will be before you make a decision to enroll. The Marketplace gives consumers control over their health insurance options.

Who: Some states run their own Marketplace. In other states the federal government runs the Marketplace.

When: Enrollment opens on October 1, 2103 and ends on March 31, 2014. Coverage begins as soon as January 1, 2014.

Where: Go to HealthCare.gov to get started. With the ACA, it is easier than ever to see if you qualify for insurance or other assistance programs, like CHIP or Medicaid. Just one application will let you know whether you can get lower costs based on your income.

Why: Before the ACA, more than 40 million Americans were uninsured. No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point.

How: The ACA gives everyone new protections, no matter what insurance they have. Now most plans can’t refuse coverage or charge more for pre-existing conditions like asthma or diabetes. Your plan can’t set a dollar limit on what they spend on your care during the entire time you are enrolled in the plan. Young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance up to the age of 26, and all plans must give a Summary of Benefits and Coverage, easy-to-read info about a plan’s coverage and costs. 

Beware of Fraud! Know the warning signs and how to protect yourself

With any new program, there is a lot of confusion around how it works or where to go for information. Sometimes consumers can become vulnerable to scams and fraud. With fraudulent websites or phone calls offering to help you sign up for “Obamacare,” it is hard to know who to trust. Here are some tips to protect yourself and personal health information from fraud.

  • Visit Healthcare.gov, the official site for the Marketplace, to sign up for coverage and learn more about the health care law.
  • Look for official government seals, logos or web addresses (.gov extension)
  • Compare insurance plans before making a decision or paying for insurance. There can be many that fit your particular needs!
  • No one should be asking for your personal health information. Don’t give it to anyone.
  • Keep personal and account numbers private. Don’t give your Social Security number or credit card or banking information to companies you didn’t contact or in response to unsolicited advertisements.
  • Never give your personal health or financial information to someone who calls or comes to your home uninvited, even if they say they are from the Marketplace.
  • Consumers should only get help to sign up for the Marketplace for certified application counselors and Navigators—check online for those organizations in your area approved by the government to help enroll individuals. These are free services provided to anyone who needs help. Beware of anyone who charges a fee in connection with enrollment.
  • Write down and keep a record of a salesperson’s name or anyone who may assist you, who he or she works for, phone number, street address, mailing address, email address, and website.

Learn more!

Online: HealthCare.gov | Call center: (800) 318-2596 | 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

TTY: (855) 889-4325

Information is available in dozens of other languages as well, including Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean. 

Related Articles