I participated in an online briefing on behalf of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield & The Motherhood. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.
It has been a long time coming. The initial stages of United States heath care reform will begin starting October 1, 2013. At that point you will be able to shop for insurance coverage through national and state-administered insurance exchanges. Called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or ObamaCare, this will be the beginning of a complete change in the way we purchase health care coverage and access care. If you are confused or unsure of what to expect, you are not alone. 45% of Americans know nothing at all about the health insurance exchanges and 75% of uninsured adults are unaware that they will have new insurance options. (Sources: Kaiser Family Foundation and Enroll America)
Last week I attended an online briefing put together by the Motherhood to learn more about the health insurance exchanges. There were two great speakers who tried to give a basic understanding of the changes. Because this is a brand new nationwide system, nobody knows exactly how it will work in practice. Ellie Kay, WellPoint spokesperson and best-selling author of fourteen books and a popular media guest on Fox and ABC News and Patrick Blair, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of WellPoint, were able to walk us through the basics so that I can pass it along to you.
Note: WellPoint does business in 14 states across the U.S. and is locally known as: Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Why focus on mom-bloggers?
As Stan Lee very eloquently put it, with great power comes great responsibility.
- Women make more than 85% of all consumer purchasing decisions
- Women make 80% of healthcare decisions
What Are the Health Insurance Exchanges? Staring October1 you will be able to shop for health insurance via Heath Insurance Exchanges. A health insurance “exchange” is just another word for “marketplace.” It works similarly to Amazon, Expedia or Travelocity and lets you compare health insurance options. Even though you can shop starting October 1 your new coverage will not start until January 1st of next year. Each state will have its own exchange serving people who buy health insurance for just themselves and their families. If you have coverage through your employer you may not have to worry about the marketplace. The vast majority of people who are currently covered by their employers will not see a change or have to use the public exchange.
So what Are Your Options? I you have coverage through your employer you can continue that coverage. You can buy health insurance yourself – either through exchanges, direct for insurance companies or through traditional brokers. You can enroll in government programs like Medicare or Medicaid plans – if you are eligible. Or you can make the choice to go without insurance – but you will have to pay a tax penalty of 1% of your annual income (this will go up every year). The exception to that is if you make $9,500 or less, then you won’t have to pay that penalty tax.
What Can You Expect from the Affordable Care Act? There will now be affordable health care options available. You may qualify for financial help allowing you to protect your whole family. You will get preventive health care at no cost and you can’t be denied based on pre-existing conditions!
All Plans will Include Certain Health Benefits. These benefits include: emergency services, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, preventive and wellness services, chronic disease management, pediatric services, including oral and vision care.
With the Affordable Health Care Act Women will not be Treated Differently. Women won’t be charged more and cannot be charged more or denied for a pre-existing condition. As a woman you will get preventative care for mammograms, well woman visits, contraception and much more. You will also be able to choose your own primary care, OB-GYN or pediatrician without referrals.
To learn more, check out these websites:
Are you overwhelmed now? I felt like I left the briefing with even more questions than when it began (and they answered all the questions I took in!). So I sat down with my insurance agent and talked through what options would be best for me as well as best for my small business. Her advice to me was to wait it out a little. Even though the exchanges open on October 1, coverage doesn’t go into effect until January 1 so there isn’t a rush to have to purchase coverage immediately. Instead I will be taking the information I learned, watching what happens, and checking back with the sites listed above. I would suggest you check in with your employer and/or insurance agent. Hopefully the information I have to provide will assist you in making an informed decision as to what is best for you and your family!