October 14, 2013
In recent months, there have been a number of news stories concerning the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” October 1, 2013 marked a major point for the Affordable Care Act, as that date signaled the opening of the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace will give Americans who are uninsured, or who buy their own coverage, a whole new way to shop for coverage.
Coverage offered through the Marketplace includes a range of options so consumers can pick a plan that best meets their needs, the needs of their family, and their budget. With one Marketplace application, a consumer will be able to see if they qualify for lower costs on health insurance based on income or free or low-cost coverage available through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. No matter what state a consumer lives in, he or she will be able to use the Marketplace to apply for coverage, compare options, and enroll.
Navigators will provide unbiased information to consumers about health insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplace, qualified health plans, and public programs. This program is open to individuals, families and small business owners to help understand health plan options, qualify for financial assistance, and enroll in a health plan through the Exchange.
Big Five is here to assist consumers in our community with understanding, shopping and enrolling in the Health Insurance Marketplace. We have trained Navigators on staff available to assist consumers with their applications and address questions regarding the Marketplace.
No matter where they live, consumers will only need to fill out a single application for the Marketplace to choose from the health plans available in their area, to learn if they qualify for programs like Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (referred to as SoonerCare), or to find out if they qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs. In addition, subsidies will be available to those consumers who qualify as a means of lowering the cost of insurance coverage.
All health plans offered through the Marketplace must cover a comprehensive set of benefits, including physician visits, preventive care, hospital stays, and prescriptions. Plans must also treat everyone fairly; discrimination against pre-existing conditions will be banned. Coverage will start as soon as January 1, 2014. Those who are uninsured after March 31, 2014 will be subject to a penalty under the Affordable Care Act.
Big Five’s Navigators have undergone all required training and certification and are geared up and ready to begin assisting consumers with the open enrollment process in Bryan, Carter, Coal, Love and Pontotoc counties. Consumers can call their local Big Five office to schedule an appointment for assistance navigating the health coverage options and with enrollment.
“We want our community members to be aware and educated about the Affordable Care Act and Open Enrollment. We will set up appointments to assist consumers with understanding and enrolling in the Marketplace. We ask anyone needing assistance to please call and set up an appointment,” stated Donna Pound, Community Services Director. For local assistance on information regarding the program or to make an appointment with your local Navigator, please call your local Big Five office or (580) 924-5331. Other resources available 24 hours a day 7 days a week are visiting HealthCare.gov. or calling 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).