What is the advantage of buying a policy on the Exchange and when can that actually be done? Individuals have choices of both On Exchange and Off Exchange insurance coverage for themselves and their families. “On Exchange” describes policies that can be issued to those who accept an advance premium tax credit, also called a subsidy, to help pay for their premiums. Consumers are able to use their advance premium tax credits (subsidies) with private insurance companies and independent agents who provide the same plans as the government’s on-line exchange. So, the consumers weren’t the only ones anticipating the start of the Open Enrollment period on October 1, 2013. Insurance carriers, agents and software providers have worked diligently to be ready for Healthcare Marketplace and the Open Enrollment Period for buying healthcare coverage. As highlighted in recent news, however, a heavily marketed Open Enrollment race screeched to a frustrating and problematic crawl throughout October due to problems with the Federal portion of the program. Now what should we do?
First, it is important to keep in mind the intent of the time pressure that is part of the Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as ‘Obamacare’). The abbreviated opportunity to purchase a policy is called Open Enrollment and it is a new concept in private healthcare coverage. This restriction on the time period available to register for premium subsidies and purchase a policy was intended to bring as many healthy consumers into the insurance pool as possible by penalizing them for lack of participation and requiring participation for much of the policy year. The ACA designates the period from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 as the enrollment period for healthcare insurance policies effective in the year 2014. By law, unless certain qualifying events can be met, (such as loss of coverage due to loss of a job), consumers will not be able to purchase Exchange policies after March 31, 2014. It is unlikely that Off-Exchange Individual policies will be offered after the Open Enrollment period either.
It may be that the best way to deal with the time pressure of an enrollment deadline combined with a minimally operational enrollment process is to… just wait. Turn your attention to other priorities in your life such as family or education. A healthy reaction may be to take up a new exercise routine to burn off the anxiety and frustration in the meantime. According to releases from several Federal agencies, the glitches that are preventing most people from buying policies should be cleared up by November, which still leaves time for the original effective date of January 1, 2014.
By using an independent agent to keep track of the enrollment process, you can save time and get the same policies at no extra cost to you. Our agents are able to estimate subsidy calculations and gather insurance quotes today, and can keep you up to date on any news. If you are planning on using a subsidy, think of us as “keeping your place in line” while you live your regular life.
Our agency is also helping clients with immediate healthcare options which also may benefit you. Call us if you still have questions about your insurance coverage or if you do not yet have a policy for 2014.
Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA) information discussed in communications is most accurate as of this date. The Department of Health & Human Services may amend or change federal regulations at any time.