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Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler offers advice to consumers seeking health coverage by Jan. 1

With thousands of consumers still actively searching for health insurance and many who need coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2014, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is concerned that people may not understand all of their options for getting covered.

“I’ve heard from consumers who have struggled recently to get signed up for new coverage through Wahealthplanfinder.org,” said Kreidler. “I share their concerns and understand their frustration – especially those who are losing their old plans and who really need coverage by Jan. 1.  Wahealthplanfinder is the only place to get a subsidy, but it’s not the only way to buy health insurance.”

The deadline for having health coverage – that starts Jan. 1 through the Wahealthplanfinder – is currently Dec. 23. Kreidler is encouraging the Exchange and the insurance carriers to work together to find a way to guarantee that anyone who applies by Dec. 23 will be covered on Jan. 1.

Kreidler also warned consumers that health plans for sale outside of the Exchange may need your application and payment sooner. Contact your insurer today if you have questions about what steps you need to take and when you must act.

Anyone looking for guidance before the end of the year should consider these options:

If you don’t think you’ll qualify for a subsidy:

  • Subsidies are generally available to individuals earning less than $45,960. The cut-off for a family of four is $94,200.

If your plan is cancelled and you don’t want to get auto-enrolled in a plan suggested by your insurer:

  • Contact an insurance company directly or an agent or broker today. They can help you sort through plans both inside and outside the Exchange. Using an agent or broker is free and could help facilitate finding the plan that best meets your needs.

If your plan is cancelled and you are auto-enrolled in the plan suggested by your insurer:

  • You can keep the plan you’ve been auto-enrolled in or
  • You can continue to shop for a new plan with a different insurance company either inside or outside the Exchange until March 31, 2014. Keep in mind that if you’re auto-enrolled in a new plan, your insurer may not let you switch to one of its other plans.

Open enrollment for plans sold both inside and outside the Exchange ends March 31, 2014 but extends to April 30 for children under age 19. Medicaid open enrollment runs all year.

Kreidler stressed that people should not wait until Dec. 23 to contact their insurance company or an agent or broker if they want to guarantee they’re covered by the New Year.

“We’ve always known that implementing health reform would require many moving parts coming together and that it would take a number of agencies and the insurance industry working together,” said Kreidler. “My office is doing its part to ensure that all approved health plans live up to the new reforms and that people have better coverage. We’re counting on the Exchange to get and keep Wahealthplanfinder up and running.”

Kreidler is a non-voting member of the Exchange board that oversees Wahealthplanfinder. The Legislature established the Exchange as a public-private partnership.

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