MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- (Marketwire) -- 02/05/13 -- Today eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) (eHealthInsurance.com), America's first and largest private online health insurance exchange, released tips to help American consumers -- insured and uninsured alike -- understand their coverage options and responsibilities this year.
In the multi-year roll-out of federal health care reform, 2013 has been described as a "gap year." A number of the Affordable Care Act's consumer-focused provisions were made effective between 2010 and 2012, but the last major provisions of the law -- and those which may have the greatest impact on consumers -- do not come into effect until January 2014. These include:
•The Individual Mandate -- This is the requirement that most Americans without employer-based health insurance purchase coverage for themselves. •The Employer Mandate -- This requires employers with fifty or more full-time workers (or the equivalent in part-time workers) to provide employer-based group health insurance for employees. •Guaranteed Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions -- Starting in January 2014, no one may be declined health insurance coverage due to the presence of pre-existing medical conditions. •Subsidies to Make Health Insurance More Affordable -- Government subsidies will help many people earning less than 400% of the federal poverty level afford individually-purchased health insurance.
In order to help consumers better understand their options during this gap year -- before the above provisions of health reform come into effect -- eHealth has compiled the following five tips:
Gap Year Health Insurance Tips
Don't wait until 2014 to get health insurance. If you're currently uninsured, it might be tempting to wait out the next several months until January 2014, when subsidies may be available to help you afford coverage and you can no longer be declined due to pre-existing medical conditions. But going uninsured, even for a few months, can be a big -- and costly -- mistake. A single visit to the emergency room or an overnight stay in the hospital can cost you thousands of dollars. Health insurance limits your liability for medical costs and can help you avoid medical-related bankruptcy. Health insurance coverage purchased in 2014 will not help you pay for medical bills incurred in 2013.
Get creative to get covered this year. When looking for health insurance, consider an individual or family health insurance plan first. Work with a licensed agent like eHealthInsurance.com, the best place to compare and apply for health insurance online, to find the right match for your needs and budget. Individual and family plans are paid for on a month-to-month basis and may be canceled at any time. If you don't qualify for coverage due to a pre-existing medical condition, a 2010 provision of the health reform law strengthened state high-risk pools and pre-existing condition plans. Learn more about these options through your state department of insurance or pcip.gov. If standard individual coverage or pre-existing condition coverage isn't an option for you, look into short-term health insurance, accident or critical illness coverage. These products don't provide the richer benefits you may get from a traditional health insurance plan, but they can provide a layer of protection in case of serious illness, accident or hospitalization.
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