Have you gone to inquire for health insurance and subsidies on the Marketplace (healthcare.gov)? I have been enrolling my customers through the system over the past 4 months. I can tell you it has not been a smooth process for the most part. I have entered with a customer their information in the systems more times than I like to admit. It is a timely process to get approved for a subsidy. We have seen some subsidies covering nearly all of a customers premium – so they end up with a Silver plan that costs them $0.07/mo premium. This makes the customers very happy to get this premium.
When I first meet with a customer we work together to see if they can qualify for a subsidy. This process using the HealthCare.gov site is very simple and does not ask any personal/financial date to determine if you can qualify. You would go to the “See Plans Before I Apply”. They will ask what you are looking for and if you are interested to see if you qualify for assistance paying for your health insurance. If you do not qualify for a Subsidy, I usually suggest to clients to not go through the Marketplace, mostly because the process is easier on the client.
This assistance can as well include Cost Sharing, which basically means that they will lower your deductible and out of pocket limits on the Silver plan you select. I believe many people who are not using an agent are not aware they should look at Silver plans to get the maximum benefit with a subsidized plan. An agent can really guide you to find and understand your coverage. I as well believe people are buying without agents help may end up with a plan that they will be very dissatisfied with if they did not understand what they are buying.
The application process usually takes around 1 hour to complete, I have been able to get it down to 45-minutes if everything works properly. Selecting a user name has been difficult as I have had some difficulty having it work for the client. They make you enter a few pages of information before they tell you they did not like the username. Then you need to do it again and again until it works.
After you get through that it is a straight forward form with some questions that are redundant between modules and some are very silly. They ask if a 3-year old girl is pregnant, smoke, earns money, and some question drive me crazy as an agent. Once you get through all the questions on the personal and financial side, then they spit out a subsidy eligibility. From there you decide if you want to use all of it to pay for your health insurance. I usually recommend using it all.
Then we go look at plans. I usually start by looking at the Silver coverage. Once you decide on the plan, you are good to go to select and apply for the coverage. Just a few more questions and then you are enrolled. The only thing that you need to do after that is wait about 5 days to allow for the insurance company to receive your information then you can pay the first months premium and recurring premium payment setup. I would be sure to do this before your policy begins, to ensure that your coverage is fully paid an active. They have begun to be more strict on having paid up premiums before benefits are paid out. I think January was a month where the insurance company paid thousands in benefits without receiving any premium from the client.
Need help, do hesitate to ask a local agent. You will not be charged any fees or the premiums will not be any higher. You will have someone that can advise you and support you with any questions. Subsidies are available, use an expert to ensure you get the maximum benefit from your subsidies and health plan. Open enrollment ends on the Health Insurance Marketplace and off of the marketplace on March 31st 2014. Don’t delay or you will not be able to get any health insurance until January 2015.
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