Last week, healthcare in the United States made history as the Health Insurance Marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) opened for public enrollment. No matter your side on the policy, this is big news for Americans because it signals the most ambitious healthcare reform to pass legislation in half a century. Is it perfect? Most people—including those in favor of it—have some concerns, and the roll-out on October 1st wasn’t smooth sailing as planned. But as all major reforms require, time and participation are needed to work out the kinks and improve problem-areas identified by users.
Currently, 48 million Americans are living without health insurance (that’s roughly equivalent to 15% of the population). The Affordable Care Act, however, is designed to expand affordable health care access to all Americans and to improve the quality of care, coverage, and protection offered under public and private insurance plans. The marketplace is open in all states, so you can get coverage no matter where you live.
For those who are uninsured: explore the Marketplace and compare options based on your health and financial needs; if you elect out of coverage, you may have to pay a fee. For those who already have coverage: learn about your new rights and protections under the law and see if you’re eligible for lower costs on your monthly premiums with private insurance. You have until December 15th to sign up for insurance policies that will go into effect on January 1st; even if you don’t sign up by then, the enrollment period for the first year extends into March.
The Affordable Care Act has been President Obama’s most contested piece of legislation of his tenure, and with that has come a dizzying swirl of truths and myths over the years about what the new healthcare system does and does not do. That being said, one of the most important steps in this process is to become educated on the nature of the law and on your rights and protections under the law. It’s important to be an informed consumer (or even dissenter) in this regard, because you have the right to choice and control over the health plan best suited for your needs.
Visit HealthCare.gov to enroll.