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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tips for getting health insurance under Obamacare

By David Sayen
Gazette Contributor

Since its October 1 launch, HealthCare.gov has been dramatically improved. We’ve taken it from a system that didn’t perform nearly as well as it should have, to one that can help you learn about your new health insurance options, create an account, learn about financial help you may be able to receive, compare your options, and select a plan.

If you’ve tried HealthCare.gov and been unsatisfied with your experience, or if you’ve been wondering if you’re eligible for a more affordable option under the health care law, here are some tips for you. Remember, you MUST enroll in a plan by December 23, and pay your premium, to get coverage starting January 1, 2014.

We’ve added a new feature to HealthCare.gov that lets you “window shop” for coverage and shows discounts on premiums and other costs that might be available to you. Log on to HealthCare.gov and click “See Plans.” You’ll only need to answer a few simple questions to see detailed information about each Marketplace health insurance plan offered in Arizona – before you apply. Using this new tool you can compare plans, understand covered benefits, review physician and hospital networks, and more – before you login or complete an application.

If you’ve tried HealthCare.gov – especially in October or early November – and your application seems stuck or you can’t move forward, try the process again. First, log in to your account, select the application in progress, and hit “remove.” Then close and re-open your web browser. Log back into your HealthCare.gov account and start a new application. Having trouble? Call our Customer Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.

If you filled out a paper application, call our Customer Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to get your application ID number and find out if your eligibility determination has been made. You can use this information after you create an account on HealthCare.gov to review plans and enroll. Or you can finish the process on the phone or with in-person assistance in your community (visit findlocalhelp.healthcare.gov to find a trained assister).

Did you pay your premium? Don’t forget the final step!

No matter how you apply for coverage and select a plan through the Marketplace, you need to pay your premium on or before December 31, 2013 in order to have coverage by January 1, 2014. Although you compare and choose a plan using the Health Insurance Marketplace, once you select a plan, you must pay your premium to the insurance company directly – not to the Health Insurance Marketplace.

If you select a plan on HealthCare.gov, you’ll see an orange message indicating that you must make payment to be covered on January 1. Insurers handle payment differently, so follow the instructions from the insurer you select about what forms of payment are accepted and the due date of your first premium – which will be on or before December 31, 2013, depending on the plan you choose.

If you aren’t sure if you’ve finished the process and enrolled in the plan of your choice, call your insurance company. They can confirm that you paid your first month’s premium and are enrolled. They’ll also send you plan information and your insurance card.

If you’re having trouble, call our Customer Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.

You can get help where and when you need it – on HealthCare.gov, by phone, or in person. You can also use more than one of these tools to enroll. For example, you can start an application online and then call our Customer Call Center 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1 855-889-4325) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to get help enrolling. Or, you can also find in–person help from certified assisters in your area. Just enter your zip code to get started. 

David Sayen is Medicare’s regional administrator for Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Territories. You can always get answers to your Medicare questions by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

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