Why You Can’t Wait Until You Get Sick To Get Health Insurance







Health insurance works by having members pay a monthly premium that goes into a pool. When a member gets sick, they dip into the pool’s shared resources to help pay for their medical care. This helps keep out-of-pocket costs down for members.

That’s why you can’t just wait until you get sick to purchase health insurance. After you receive expensive medical bills in the mail, it’s too late to sign up for health insurance. Health insurance can only help you if you have insurance at the time of your car accident, when you go to the hospital, or when your child goes to the emergency room with a dangerously high fever.

That’s why it’s important to have health insurance — and to make sure your children and family members do too. Even if you feel healthy or don’t think you need to see the doctor, you never know when you will need insurance. That’s why it’s called insurance (just in case).

You won’t be dropped from insurance
The Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance companies cannot drop members after they get sick (something Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota has never done and will never do) and it also does not allow insurers to deny coverage to members because of pre-existing medical conditions or to place lifetime or annual limits on insurance coverage.

Insurance requirement
The Affordable Care Act also requires that most Americans enroll in health insurance coverage by March 31, 2014 or face a tax penalty when filing your 2014 federal income tax return.

Enrollment period
Even though you cannot be turned away as a BCBSND member as long as you pay your premiums, you still need to sign up during enrollment periods. If you already have coverage through an employer, you have a current BCBSND plan, or through a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid, you’re good to go. But if you are uninsured, you will need to sign up for an individual or family plan directly from us or on the North Dakota health insurance marketplace by March 31, 2014, to have coverage in 2014. The next open enrollment period for on- and off-marketplace coverage begins on November 15, 2014 for coverage starting in 2015.

Find a plan
To check out your coverage options and avoid the penalty, you can get started at www.BCBSND.com/shop or by calling 1-800-280-BLUE (2583). If you meet income qualifications you may qualify for a federal tax credit to help you pay the cost of your insurance if you select a plan on the marketplace. You can use our tax credit calculator to find out if you might qualify.

Some North Dakotans who experience life changes after March 31 this year, such as having a baby or getting married, may qualify for a special enrollment period. If your existing BCBSND plan is being discontinued, you may also qualify for a special enrollment period when your policy expires. If you aren’t sure if this applies to you, please call us at 1-800-280-BLUE (2583) and we’ll help you.

Ryan Schuster is an editor in the Communications department at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota.