Don’t panic if you have been unable to sign up for coverage through the health insurance marketplace. There is no need to rush. Coverage on plans purchased through the marketplace do not kick in until January 1, 2014 and you do not need to complete enrollment and submit payment until December 15, 2013 to get coverage starting on January 1, 2014. The enrollment period for coverage in 2014 runs through March 31, 2014.
Health insurance marketplaces opened for the first time during the first week of October 2013 and were met with heavy web traffic, glitches and technical difficulties related to the federal marketplace that made it difficult for those seeking insurance to sign up. Many North Dakotans attempting to reach North Dakota’s state marketplace to compare and select insurance plans through the federal government’s healthcare.gov website received error messages and had difficulty registering and signing up for coverage.
North Dakotans seeking coverage on the state’s health insurance marketplace can visit healthcare.gov to view plans and apply for coverage.
Health insurance marketplaces (also known as exchanges) are part of the Affordable Care Act health reform law, also known as Obamacare, and are intended to help the uninsured find insurance coverage. Roughly 90 percent of North Dakotans receive health insurance through an employer. If you already have health insurance, you do not need to go to the marketplace. If you currently purchase insurance directly from an insurance company, you may want to compare you coverage to what is available on the state marketplace. When comparing plans, it is important to consider not just the cost of the premium, but also the coverage levels and your health care usage (selecting a lower premium may result in you paying more when you go to the doctor or hospital for care).
Health reform can be confusing and change is difficult. We are there to help. We are available to help answer your questions and guide you through the changes, whether or not you are a Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota member. We will hold eight informational sessions throughout the state in October 2013 to help guide North Dakotans through health reform changes and help them make coverage decisions. Find out more about health reform and register online to attend out of the info sessions at www.ItStartsWithBlueND.com.
Let us know if you have any questions. We’re here to help.
Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.