Monday, September 30, 2013

When and How Do I Sign Up in the Marketplace?

We know health reform is big and confusing. Some parts of the law started in 2010. Other parts are rolling out over the next several years. Texas physicians and the Texas Medical Association have carefully studied the law to help you understand what the changes mean to your health care. 

As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to roll out, Me&My Doctor’s “Hey Doc” series will answer your frequently-asked questions, as well as some you might not have thought to ask. 

Check out part four in this series.

Q. When can I sign up?
Here are some important dates you should know relating to enrollment in the marketplace:

  • Open enrollment is expected to begin Oct. 1. That’s when you’ll be able to compare plans in the marketplace and enroll for coverage. 
  • Dec. 15 is the last day to sign up for insurance in the marketplace for it to be effective as of Jan. 1, 2014. 
  • Jan. 1, 2014, is when the individual mandate kicks in requiring most people to get insurance or pay a penalty.
  • The marketplace enrollment period will be open until March 31, 2014 — the last day to sign up for health insurance coverage for 2014. Certain circumstances may allow you to sign up after that date. Visit for more information.

Q. How do I apply?
It is anticipated that starting Oct. 1, you will be able to shop for plans, file a marketplace application, and enroll in several ways: online at, by phone through the toll-free call center at (800) 318-2596, by mail, or with the help of in-person assistance programs. (See “Where can I get help signing up?”)

There is a single application regardless of which health insurance plan you end up choosing. Once you file, you will automatically find out if you qualify for breaks on the insurance premium, reduced out-of-pocket costs, or state health insurance programs.

Enrollment at takes four steps:

  1. Set up an account. You’ll provide some basic information to get started, like your name, address, and email address.
  2. Fill out the online application. You’ll provide information about you and your family, like household income, household size, current health coverage information, and more. 
  3. Compare your options. You’ll be able to see all the options you qualify for, including private insurance plans, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and any tax credits toward your monthly premiums or out-of-pocket costs on deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance. You’ll also see details about the costs and benefits of each plan option before you choose.
  4. Enroll. After you choose a plan, you can enroll and decide how to pay your premiums to your insurance company. If you or a member of your family qualifies for Medicaid or CHIP, a representative will contact you to enroll. 

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