26 Sep Top Reasons Why You Should Enroll in Health Care Now!
By Jesus Andrade and Nicole Powell
1. Health IS priceless.
BUT health insurance has been expensive and unattainable for millions. Now thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is more affordable and accessible than ever. This new health care law expands public programs like Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California) to millions more low-income individuals than were previously covered by broadening who is eligible. It also creates online marketplaces, or exchanges, such as Covered California (www.coveredca.com) through which individuals and small businesses can purchase quality affordable plans. People can also qualify for tax credits and other help to cover costs.
2. Emergency room? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Or the money to pay for a visit. According to the California HealthCare Foundation, getting treatment in an emergency room is three to four times more expensive than care in a doctor’s office. For many uninsured, the only time they see a physician is in the ER. But since ER treatment is more expensive, it drives up the cost of health care for everyone. By making insurance more affordable, we can put more people in the doctor’s office and reduce the need for emergency care, helping to cut health costs for all.
3. You can finally get that pesky rash checked out!
Under Obamacare, annual checkups and preventive care are free. That means cost won’t force you to put off your wellness visit, cancer screening, vaccination, diabetes test, flu shot or other things you should do to stay healthy. And insurance companies can no longer “cost share” for these items, so no more co-pays or deductibles for preventive care.
4. ’Cuz it’s hard out here with a limp.
In the past, many individuals did not have health care coverage because insurance companies denied them policies due to pre-existing conditions. Consequently, people either left health problems untreated or faced paying crushing medical bills for care. Starting January, companies will no longer be able to deny coverage or charge more due to pre-existing conditions. So even those with serious illnesses will be able to buy insurance.
5. Everyone is doing it.
Maybe not everyone, but at least almost 20 million more people could be insured because of health care reform, according to news reports.
At least 17 million Americans would be eligible for Medicaid under the new federal standards, according to Consumer Reports. Starting in January, individuals making less than $15,856 a year or a family of four making less than $32,499 will qualify for Medicaid. The program will also be extended to individuals who were previously ineligible, such as those with low incomes, regardless of whether they have dependents.
Those who don’t qualify for Medicaid can purchase insurance through their state’s health exchange. An estimated 8.5 million people will go this route to purchase insurance, according to a recent USA Today survey of 19 states operating such exchanges.
The new law also allows young adults to join or stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, even if they don’t live at home or are married. Those under 30 can also purchase catastrophic health coverage that includes essential benefits and three primary care visits a year.
6. If you snooze, you lose.
You must have health coverage by Jan. 1, 2014, or pay a tax penalty. You can be insured through your employer, a public program like Medicaid or by purchasing a plan on your own or through your state’s health exchange, such as Covered California. Individuals are exempt only if the cost of health insurance exceeds 8% of their household income.
Enrollment in Covered California begins Oct. 1 for health insurance plans that go into effect Jan. 1. Time to sign up!
Andrade is a community organizer and Powell is an intern at Community Coalition