“If you or someone you care about does not have health care, it’s not too late to sign up for quality affordable coverage — but you’ll want to act today.”
The words from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, taken from her Detroit Free Press op-ed published today, speak to the looming March 31 deadline for Americans to get health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Set forth by the Affordable Care Act, uninsured Americans in each state have used the Marketplace since Oct. 1 to gain coverage meeting their specific needs.
The deadline is significant for two reasons. Those without insurance by April 1:
- will not be able to gain coverage through the Marketplace until Nov. 15, 2014, when the next open enrollment period begins; and
- may have to pay a fee, starting at $95 per person for one year or 1 percent of their yearly household income.
However, many people quality for subsidies and lowered costs.
Five million Americans have enrolled in coverage through federal or state marketplaces and millions more have learned they are eligible for Medicaid, according to Sebelius. And despite its rocky rollout some analysts believe that enrollment numbers will surpass original government expectations with more than 6 million sign-ups.
Each plan purchased through the Marketplace guarantees minimum requirements of 10 essential health benefits.
“What’s more, by law, insurance companies now have to cover health services such as doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, ambulatory care and hospital stays,” Sebelius said. “Preventive care like cancer and cholesterol screenings are covered with no additional money out of your pocket.”
If you are uninsured you can enroll today through Marketplace websites, Healthcare.gov and Cuidadodesalud.gov, or find in-person sign-up locations through localhelp.healthcare.gov. APHA has also created a short guide, “The Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace: Consumer Education Resources for Public Health Practitioners” to help those who want to help others.