Sunday November 1, marked the first day of open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance marketplace plans.
Whether you enrolled in an ACA health insurance marketplace plan last year, you’re looking for coverage for the first time, or you’ll be looking for health insurance in the near future, it’s very important that you shop around. There are new plans now available in the ACA marketplace that were not available before, and a plan that you enrolled in last year may have made changes to the services and medications covered and how they are covered. Similarly, plans may have changed which healthcare practitioners are in their network. All of these changes may affect how much you pay for your care and if you will be able to continue seeing your current practitioners. You have until January 31st, 2016 to enroll in coverage for next year, but only until December 15th if you want that coverage to begin on January 1st, 2016.
The National Kidney Foundation knows that shopping for health insurance can be challenging, particularly when you have a chronic health condition. That’s why we developed the Kidney Health Insurance Worksheet to help you get organized and know what to look for when shopping for coverage. We also created a decision aide for individuals with kidney failure who are exploring all of their insurance options, including eligibility for Medicare. In addition, the National Health Council, of which NKF is a member, has updated its Putting Patients First calculator to help you estimate how much you will have to pay for your healthcare, depending on which type of marketplace plan you choose (bronze, silver, gold or platinum). These tools together can help you better identify the type of plan that best meets your healthcare and financial needs.
Trained representatives are also available to guide you through the process. They can help you apply for coverage and determine if you qualify for financial assistance, which can substantially lower the amount you have to pay for your health insurance premiums and healthcare costs. To get started:
Step 1: Print out the Kidney Health Insurance Worksheet and fill in the information about your healthcare needs. If you have been newly diagnosed with end-stage renal disease, check out the decision aide to understand your options.
Step 2: Visit puttingpatientsfirst.net and complete the information to identify which metal level plan–bronze, silver, gold, or platinum–will provide you with the lowest costs.
Step 3: Visit healthcare.gov—which will either take you to your state’s specific marketplace or show you plans specific to your zip code and household income—to shop for options. Complete the Kidney Health Insurance Worksheet for the plans you want to compare.
Step 4: Either on healthcare.gov or on your state’s health insurance marketplace website look for contact information where you can get free personal assistance in picking a health insurance plan.
For additional information, read our posts in our Choosing Your Health Insurance Plan series: Top 6 Things Kidney Patients Need to Know about Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace and Choosing Your Health Insurance Plan: Look Beyond the Premium.
Have you enrolled in an ACA Marketplace Plan? Share your experience with us by leaving a comment or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.