Enrollment into Health Insurance Marketplace “only phone call away”

Millions of Americans have visited to see the health coverage options available on the new Health Insurance Marketplace, according to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services. She has been consistant in reporting that “the tremendous response confirms that the American people are looking for quality, affordable health coverage.”

In order to help meet consumer demand, four ways to apply for health coverage has been adopted through what is being called the Marketplace. Besides actually using a computer to “go online” — there is also a paper application. In order to complete the paper application, it is necessary to visit a trained assistor in your community. In order to find out more about were personal assistors are available call 1-800-318-2596. You may also call that same number to apply for health insurance and enroll over the phone, 24/7 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).

“At the Call Center, we’ve had over 1.6 million calls [as of 10/24/13],” said Sebelius.

“When the president spoke, over 120,000 calls were handled over the day, the second highest day so far. And average wait times for calls is less than 30 seconds, and three minutes for chats.”

To help with enrolling and accessing coverage, Call Center staffing has increased. There are more than 10,000 trained customer service representatives ready and able to handle calls. Every member of the Call Center staff is trained to help answer your questions about applying. “Help is just a phone call away,” said Sebelius.

Secretary Sebelius shares that there have been some problems in the developing system, she assures however that those problems will be taken care of. “As we work to fix the site,” said Sebelius, “we encourage Americans to continue to sign up for quality affordable coverage in four ways: by phone, online, by-mail and in person.

“Millions of Americans are already benefitting from the law, through increased benefits like preventative care at no additional costs and drug discounts for seniors,” she said. “We believe that product of the law — affordable health insurance – is good, but we won’t stop until every American who wants it gains access to there new options for care.”

Patience urged with Healthcare Marketplace glitches
Nearly 900,000 uninsured in TN

by John Michaelson
– The race is on to fix glitches in the roll-out of America’s new online health care marketplace, and patience is being urged for those trying to sign up. Since Tennessee did not create its own exchange, it is among the states using the federal website.

Steven Emmert, COO, Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, said despite the issues, the demand underscores the need.
“It speaks to the fact that the people want to do the responsible thing,” Emmert said. “They want health insurance, they understand it’s important and they’re willing to do what they need to do to get there.”
Emmert also noted that the average cost in Tennessee for health care plans under the exchange is the second lowest in the country.

“The other thing that people need to realize is that some of the tax credits from the federal government are for individuals who earn up to 400 percent of the poverty level,” he added. “So not only are we getting great rates, but if you are an individual and making less than about $45,000 a year, you might actually get some tax credits to help you out with those monthly premiums, as well.”

Increasing the number in the state who have coverage will improve public health overall, including the health of women, who will be more likely to get regular checkups since there are no copays for preventive care, according to Emmert.
“We know from our experience that women are much more apt to put their own health to the side in order to buy their kid a new coat or a new pair of shoes or a new backpack for school,” he said.

“It’s our strong belief that when women don’t have to worry about a copay, they’ll take advantage of those preventive health care services.”

The deadline to enroll is Dec. 15 for those who want coverage beginning in January 2014; everyone is required to have health insurance by April 1. Nearly 900,000 Tennesseans are currently without health insurance, and about one-third of them are expected to qualify for subsidies and tax credits to help cover the cost.

Enrollment forms and more information are available at http://1.usa.gov.