If the thought of going online to select a policy through the new insurance exchanges seems too daunting, take heart. Maria Forster of Volunteers of America is a certified health coverage guide for the North Fork Valley.
The first thing to realize is that you do not have to apply on the federal website for health insurance. You can go to Colorado's site, www.ConnectforHealthCO.com.
Forster's goal is to help people get on the site so they can make a decision. She is "a neutral party who helps educate people on the process." Forster is available to meet with individuals or for group meetings, such as the one she conducted at Hotchkiss Library last week.
One piece of information you will need is your estimated gross income for 2014. You can start by looking at last year's income tax return or 1040 and see what the amount is on line 37.
The open enrollment time to acquire new insurance is from Oct. 1 until March 31. Those who want their insurance to start by Jan. 1, 2014, must apply by Dec. 15.
Connect for Health Colorado was actually begun during the administration of former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens. He formed a bi-partisan committee to explore a new way to help people with their health care costs. Because of the work done at that time, Colorado was ahead of the game when the Affordable Health Care Act became law. It's a point that Forster takes pride in.
What is Connect for Health Colorado? It is a non-profit organization and is not a government agency. Their literature states it is a competitive marketplace for private health insurance with an exclusive way to get new financial help to reduce costs.
Connect for Health Colorado will not negotiate rates between carriers and providers. It is not an insurance carrier.
When you go to their website you will find up to 150 new health plans that meet the requirements of the Affordable Health Care Act. The plans are offered by 10 carriers including Access Health Colorado, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna, Colorado Choice, Colorado HealthCP, Denver Health Humana, Kaiser Permanente, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and UnitedHealthcare.
The health plans come with and without dental and vision coverage. Usually, family plans cover the children's dental and vision coverage, but not the adults'. The plans offer comprehensive medical services and benefits and free preventive services, Forster stated.
The plan types are HNMO, PPO, HSA and CYA. CYA stands for Cover Your Assets, which is a high-deductible plan for young adults.
To make comparing plans easier, all must have the same 10 essential health benefits. Those are:
1. Ambulatory patient services
2. Emergency services
4. Maternity/newborn care
5. Mental health/substance abuse
6. Prescription drugs
7. Rehab/habilitative services and devices
8. Laboratory services
9. Preventive and wellness care/chronic disease management
10. Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
When applying you cannot be denied for pre-existing conditions. You will not be asked about health conditions except whether or not you are pregnant because there is more assistance for those who are, use tobacco which pushes the rates up a little or have a disability.
Medicaid expansion looks at income only. It no longer looks at an individual's assets, such as home ownership. "Sure they own a house, but they also have expenses. So, that's why they expanded [Medicaid]," Forster said. An applicant will go through the Medicaid qualifying part of the online process first, and then if the person does not qualify will move on to the Connect for Health site to shop for insurance coverage.
The website easily takes you through the first phase of research, finding what plans are available to you. The amount that is shown for monthly premiums is the reduced rate that you will pay. The tax credit, if you qualify, is already taken out of each monthly premium.
The Affordable Health Care Act requires penalties if you decide not to have health insurance whether from the insurance exchange or any other health insurance carrier. The idea behind the Individual Mandate is that every individual has a responsibility to take care of their health. If you are thinking of just paying the penalty, you should check out what insurance from the exchange would cost. It can be less than the penalty and provide good health coverage and benefits. The choice is yours.
You can choose between four kinds of coverage. Bronze has 60 percent paid by the carrier and 40 percent by the customer. Silver has 70 percent paid by the carrier and 30 percent by the customer. Gold has 80 percent paid by the carrier and 20 percent by the customer. Platinum has 90 percent paid by carrier and 10 percent by the customer. Rates go up accordingly.
Assistance is also available through the toll-free number (855) 752-6749.blog comments powered by Disqus