Healthcare.gov is now working significantly better for the vast majority of consumers. Millions of Americans are going to the website, and enrolling, in affordable, quality coverage
Over the past eight weeks, we have made the necessary fixes to greatly improve the online experience, and ensure that consumers successfully move through the entire enrollment process. We recognize that many consumers have been frustrated by their experience over the past several weeks and our message is simple: come back and get covered.
The following tips will help ensure that you have the information and insights you need to understand your coverage options and to enroll in coverage at the Health Insurance Marketplace.
• First, you have four ways to enroll in the Marketplace. You can enroll through the website, by contacting the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596, by filling out a paper application, or by speaking to someone in your community who can help you enroll in person. Information about where you can go in your community to find help is available at localhelp.healthcare.gov.
• Second, you do still have time to enroll. If you are interested in obtaining coverage for yourself or your family that will be effective on January 1, you have until December 23 to enroll through HealthCare.gov, over the phone, or in person. Additionally, you have until March 31 to enroll in a plan that will guarantee coverage starting later in 2014. Enroll today.
• Third, all plans offered through the Marketplace offer new benefits and protections. They must provide a set of defined “essential benefits,” such as preventive benefits, mental health services, prescription drug coverage and emergency services, to ensure that you have the coverage you need to stay healthy and the protection against large medical bills when you are sick. Moreover, no one with a pre-existing condition can be denied coverage, and no one will face a lifetime cap on insurance benefits.
• Fourth, the policies available to most Americans through the Marketplace offer premiums that are lower, rather than higher, than what most consumers are now paying, and for better coverage. The Marketplace is currently the only place where you can receive financial assistance with health insurance, and most people with individual health insurance plans will qualify for lower costs.
• Fifth, even if your insurance company has told you that your individual health insurance plan is being cancelled at the end of 2013, you may actually be able to keep your plan in 2014. If your insurer decides to give you the option to renew your health plan for 2014 without making changes to benefits, they must send you a letter notifying you of this possibility. Your insurer can give you this option even if they have already told you that your plan is being cancelled.
More than one in 10 Americans does not have health insurance. We want to ensure that everyone who wants it has access to the quality coverage options offered through the health-insurance marketplace. These tips will help ensure you get the health insurance you need and deserve.
Visit HealthCare.gov. Explore your options. Sign up by Dec. 23, and enjoy all the benefits of health insurance by Jan. 1. Now is the time to get covered.
Marilyn Tavenner is administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.