Starting on April 1st, the Affordable Care Act will require most Americans to have some form of health insurance or pay a fine, but time is running out for the first Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period. ABC 10 senior reporter Mike Hoey spoke with a health insurance company manager about what uninsured U.P. residents still need to do. Most Americans without private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or a military plan will need to have coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace by the end of the month. The penalty for not having it is $95 or 1% of your household income for the year, whichever is greater. “The other thing is, you are not available for coverage through the year 2014, so you’ll miss the enrollment period,” Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan U.P. regional manager Mike Fedrizzi said.
Anyone enrolling now will have coverage starting on May 1st. Health insurance companies and local agents are working overtime to provide answers and get people covered.
“We advise people to go to their local agents if they’re working with them currently and continue to work with them,” Fedrizzi said. “We’re open if they’re full and busy and they need to see somebody, we’re here for them for sure.”
Blue Cross offices are open for extra hours and even an extra day, Saturday, March 29th, to help people enroll. Fedrizzi says he’s surprised by the number of people that have come to the Blue Cross office in Marquette to enroll in the marketplace.
“We’ve actually had to revamp and remodel our office to accommodate the traffic flow that we’ve had,” he said. “It continues to be strong. It’s not as strong as it was in the beginning, but people are still walking in the door.”
There are five levels of coverage in the marketplace: Catastrophic, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum.
“The plan most purchased at this point is the Silver plan,” Fedrizzi said. “I think the subsidies (are) allowing (people) to move up into a little better health plan for themselves.”
On April 1st, enrollment begins for Michigan’s Medicaid expansion under the Healthy Michigan Act, signed by Governor Rick Snyder last September.
Fedrizzi says Blue Cross Blue Shield will offer help to U.P. residents with that as well, but they want to get through the Obamacare enrollment period first before announcing exactly what they’ll do.
More information is available online at healthcare.gov, including online applications for the Health Insurance Marketplace. The next open enrollment period begins in November for coverage that will start next year.