How to prepare for the Affordable Care Act

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on September 30, 2013 at 8:16 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 30 at 6:04 PM

DALLAS — Starting Tuesday, anyone without health insurance will be able to get it.

Open enrollment for the federal health insurance online marketplace begins October 1.

Health insurance companies will continue to sell policies to anyone who wants them, but only at HealthCare.gov can citizens qualify for discounts on those same policies.

People on Medicaid; those who currently have insurance; or seniors on Medicare need not apply.

"Those subsidies are going to not only pay for the premium costs; for many people they're going to find that the premium is much reduced over the premium that's listed because they'll be able to get a subsidy," explained Dr. Dan McCoy, chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas. "But they'll also be able to find out if they'll get coverage for out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles,and co-pays."

The government Web site clearly states shopping doesn't start until October 1. Before applying for coverage, shoppers will need the following information:

  • a Social Security number (or document numbers for legal immigrants)
  • W-2 forms or wage and tax statements for every family member who needs coverage
  • policy numbers for any current health insurance plans
  • a completed Employer Coverage Tool

That form is available for download as part of a checklist at HealthCare.gov.

"It's not nearly as complicated as you might think,” said Martha Blaine, executive director of the Community Council of Greater Dallas.

The Council received a federal grant to hire 10 people, called “navigators,” to provide help to anyone who gets confused about the process. But Blaine said everyone needs to try the online process first.

"Supposing you get to Section 6 and you don't know what Question 6 means,” she said. “Then you can chat online and someone will answer you right back. Or if you don't like to chat, you can call and 800 number and people will answer your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in 150 languages."

The Affordable Care Act call center number is 800-318-2596.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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