Continuing from the first part of our series, which showed the most important facts to know before the March 31 open enrollments deadline, such as penalties, subsidies, and Medicare coverage. This second part of the series is going to take a dive into the remaining 4 aspects you need to consider in the wake of the approaching deadline. These 4 points will help you see why now is the right time to enroll for better health insurance through Obamacare exchanges, and how you can reach out for support to get health insurance through subsidized exchanges. Let’s take a look.
4) Technical glitches of healthcare.gov are nearly gone – When Obamacare was rolled out on October 1, 2013, the biggest hurdle in the progress of ACA was erected at the same time – a technically faulty and staggeringly unstable online marketplace. Healthcare.gov was supposed to service 36 states, but it failed miserably at its task. Furthermore, some states that elected t stand up their own exchange also experienced issues — like Oregon, Nevada, Maryland, and Hawaii. However by December 2013, things had started to get better, and in the beginning of 2014, the marketplaces were nearly fixed. By the last week of March, the exchanges have enrolled millions of Americans and are working well. With technical challenges out of the way, now would be a good time to enroll with the system and avoid any tax penalties for being uninsured.
5) Help for enrollment is readily available – For the majority of people, the enrollment process was a hassle, not only because of the struggling marketplace but also because of a convoluted process and lack of advice. Other than the federal and state helplines, which have been in place since the establishment of the online marketplaces, federal agencies and volunteers have initiated several other endeavors. Federal grants have been issued to ‘exchange navigators,’ a group of people dedicated to taking Americans through the insurance process and helping them enroll. Volunteering organizations have also participated in the process and have helped the administration gather a good chunk of enrollments from people who are underprivileged, not tech savvy or struggling to navigate the website. Similarly, private exchanges, broker firms and health plan systems can guide you through the process if you don’t have any special need of buying from federal marketplaces and can utilize private exchanges. If you are thinking of starting the enrollment process now, you can easily utilize any of these methods and get health insurance in a small span of time. As the deadline gets closer, it will be tougher to get appointments and dedicated guidance from these volunteer organizations and exchange navigators, so best would be preplanning your enrollment strategy.
6) Enrollment can be allowed at a later stage under certain circumstances – In case you think that you will not be able to go through the entire enrollment process right now, be advised that you can begin your application and complete it in the grace period after the 31st to get insurance. If that also seems impossible, then apart from the open enrollment period, which will start anew and go from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015, you can only get Obamacare compliant health insurance under certain circumstances. These circumstances include loss of employer-provided health insurance benefits, moving to a new state, marriage or birth of children. In case you have the probability of any such event happening in the near future, you still have a chance at enrollment.
7) Web traffic and last minute rush hour is expected – With the deadline closing in, a huge surge in the web traffic on healthcare.gov is expected in. Hotlines, support systems, volunteer groups, and exchange navigators are also going to feel the increasing pressure of people trying to enroll in the last few hours. If you have decided to enroll, it is best to start as quickly as you can. Choosing an insurance plan requires a fair bit of research and weighing of options, plans and other related aspects. Starting now would give you that much needed time advantage and would give you the leverage required for choosing the right plan, following the enrollment process and sending your application through.
With no technical challenges, availability of dedicated advisors to help with plan selection and opening of enrollment window in only exceptional cases before November 15,, you have every reason to get enrolled before April 1, 2014. Only a few hours are left before the closure of the open enrollment window, please make the most of it.