How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace

In this post, I’ll show you how to apply for coverage through the health insurance marketplace {Tweet That}.

A Brief History

By 2014 all non-exempt Americans must have health insurance according to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare. This act was passed and signed into law on March 23, 2010. The purpose of the ACA is to increase the quality of health care and lower the uninsured rate.  Only God knows whether or not it will actually fulfill its promise, and if past behavior is an indicator of  future success the chances are unlikely. For the sake of this article, let’s just assume its everything it promises to be.

If you have health care through our employer, you probably don’t need to read this article unless you want to marvel at the beauty of a site that requires multiple redundant requests for information,  long wait times, and no immediate answers.  {Tweet That} Wait, that’s normal…right?

Health Insurance Marketplace

If you are an American or immigrant with a certain status as defined here, you can get insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace assuming that you can actually get to the log into the site. The government (these are not the furloughed employees who were declared non-essential and sent home on the day of the launch) is working over the weekend to fix the glitches that have plagued the site since its debut on October 1, 2013.

Having worked in both the public and private sector, the lack luster launch doesn’t surprise me. However, once you get to the front of the virtual line, you can start enrolling and receiving the benefits that this system provides.

Benefits of ACA

It’s important to note that the ACA doesn’t actually provide the insurance. It simply facilitates the purchase of affordable health care coverage. Each state can determine if they want to use the federal program or if they are providing their own. Some of the benefits that the ACA provide include:

  • Prohibiting insurance companies from dropping your coverage
  • Eliminating discrimination based on gender and existing health conditions
  • Increasing the age of coverage eligibility to 26 for young adults who are on their parent’s plan
  • Protecting rights to appeal insurance decisions
  • Protecting against unjustified rate hikes

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace

To apply for coverage through the health Insurance Marketplace, you’ll need to visit www.healthcare.gov. Make sure that the https and .gov are in the url. If the extension is not .gov, you’re likely at the wrong site or perhaps even a phishing site that wants your personal information. Be careful and report any suspicious sites to the United Sates Computer Emergency Readiness Team site here. There are four parts to the application process:

  1. Setting up your account
  2. Verifying your identity through your state application process
  3. Applying for coverage and help with payment
  4. Waiting for your options

Setting Up Your Account

Once you’re on the site you’ll follow these steps:How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace Queue Page

  1. Select the Apply Now button
  2. Select your state
  3. Wait your turn
  4. Set up your account with basic information (note that you’ll have to enter your state again as the only information that carries to other pages is your name)
  5. Create a username and password
  6. Select three security questions
  7. Check your inbox to complete the account setup

 Verify Your Identity

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace State ApplicationOnce you’ve clicked the confirmation link in your email, you’ll proceed to apply for coverage through your state application process.

To complete this step you’ll:

  1. Click the Next button
  2. Enter your contact information again, including your state (Is it just odd to me that I need to enter in my state on the Arizona application page?)
  3. Answer identity verification questions such as, residences, credit card numbers, and phone numbers

 

Applying for Coverage

Once you’ve verified your information, you can apply for coverage.

How to Apply For Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace application startTo complete this step:

  1. Click the Get Started button
  2. Agree to the privacy policy
  3. Enter your contact information (Are you counting  how many times you’ve entered the same information in the system yet? Hmmm…..I suspect that the Health Insurance Marketplace links many systems to one user interface, which is why they don’t talk to each other nicely. Sound familiar?)
  4. Note who’s helping you in this process (Please don’t say me. I’m not a  health insurance expert by any means.)
  5. Apply for payment assistance (If you apply for payment assistance, you’ll need to enter your contact information…again. You’ll also need to disclose your immigration status. )
  6. Add additional family members
  7. Review your information and virtually sign the document

Waiting for Options

Once you’ve completed the three main steps, you’ll wait to hear back on what type of coverage you qualify for. This process could take days or weeks.  It’s not instantaneous. You’ll get a notification, pick from the options, complete the process, and make a payment.  I anticipate that there will be many opportunities for you to wait in this process. Just be patient. Insurance doesn’t kick in until January 1, 2014 anyway.

Live Chat Functionality

I was pleasantly surprise at the live chat functionality that was available in the process. Anyone may ask questions through the live chat. However, be prepared for a decent wait time. I was in line for 18 minutes before it was my turn. Unfortunately, I navigated away from the page to write this post and was disconnected within 2 minutes.

According to CNBC, 99% of Obamacare applications don’t have enough information in order to enroll the applicant into a plan. We’ll have to wait to see if my application has enough. I’m looking forward to seeing the options that are available to me and comparing them with what’s available through my employer.  Have you applied for health care coverage?  What was your experience?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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