As part of the Washington Post’s continuing series of online discussions about the health law’s new insurance marketplaces, KHN’s Phil Galewitz and the Post’s Sarah Kliff answered readers questions today.
A transcript of today’s discussion follows.
READER QUESTION: Neither my husband nor I receive health insurance through an employer and have had an individual plan for years. His employer covers the cost of the plan. Will we still be eligible to buy our individual plan on the exchange? If we don’t/can’t buy on the exchange, will insurance companies still be allowed to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or charge more for health reasons for individual plans not purchased on the exchange?
SARAH KLIFF: Hi there – I’ll start with the last question, which is the easiest one to answer: No, insurance companies will not be allowed to deny coverage for a pre-existing condition, or charge more due to health conditions, beginning on Jan. 1, 2014.
As to your first question, yes, you should be eligible to buy health insurance on the new marketplace. Because it’s you and your husband buying health coverage – even though you’re using money from an employer – that should still mean that you can use the new marketplaces, which open for enrollment on October 1.
READER QUESTION: If I lose my job (and with it my health plan) after the open enrollment period ends, will I be able to get a new plan right away in the exchanges? Or is there a coverage gap until the next open enrollment period begins?
SARAH KLIFF: Yes, if you lose your job outside of open enrollment, you will be able to get a plan right away in the exchanges. While there is indeed an open enrollment period (this year, from October 1 to March 31), the health care law allows people who have certain life-changing events to sign up outside of that period. Losing a job, along with moving to a new state or having a baby, count as those life-changing events.
READER QUESTION: Yesterday (September 24), Julie Appleby made the statement that people who are enrolled in Medicare don’t have to do anything differently this year. Why the qualification “this year”? Does this mean that we will have to do something differently in the coming years?
SARAH KLIFF: No, there is nothing that Medicare enrollees will have to do differently in any years going forward, as a result of Obamacare. Julie, I think, was trying to clear up some confusion about how the health care law affects Medicare beneficiaries.
The bottom line: Medicare enrollment will work the same way as it did last year, in this upcoming year, and the years after that.
READER QUESTION: Can Americans living abroad participate and where can we find options?
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