KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act began Nov. 15, and a Kansas State University community health specialist says there are some key changes to keep in mind when selecting a plan.
The health insurance market place is open through Feb. 15, 2015. Whether you are signing up for the first time or renewing an existing plan, review the plan because some details may have changed, said Roberta Riportella, Kansas Health Foundation professor of community health in the university's College of Human Ecology.
"Last year, 65 different plans were offered in Kansas through four different insurers," Riportella said. "We may see those same four insurers or we may see more. We also may see a different assortment of plans, so people will have to shop for the best plan to suit their needs."
While it is true that some people lost insurance because their policies were canceled, Riportella says it is a misconception to link that cancellation with the Affordable Care Act.
"It is unfortunate that people did have their policies canceled, but in the past people always had their policies canceled when the insurance company decided the individual was too sick or cost the insurance company too much money," Riportella said. "That can no longer happen. So 20,000 people may have lost insurance in Kansas last year, but more than 58,000 got insured through the health insurance market place. Additionally, 80 percent of people in Kansas who signed up for a policy in the health insurance market place got assistance paying for their premiums."
When you file taxes for 2014, you will have to show proof of having health insurance for at least nine months of the year. Riportella said to also note the different coverage dates based on when you sign up for insurance:
• Sign up by Dec. 15 and coverage starts Jan. 1, 2015.
• Sign up after Dec. 15 and coverage starts Feb. 1, 2015.
• Sign up Feb. 15, 2015, and coverage starts March 1, 2015.
As long as your coverage starts by March 1, 2015, Riportella said you are meeting the federal mandate.
"Let's remember the ultimate goal of people getting insured is so they can take better care of themselves," Riportella said. "This provides preventive care so they can visit the doctor in a timely fashion and not be afraid to go to the doctor because of the cost."