The deadline to apply for health insurance or pay a penalty is fast approaching, and the countdown to March 31 is now just days away. President Obama announced Thursday that more than 6 million people had signed up so far.
Here are some answers to common health insurance questions.
What happens if I don’t sign up?
If you don’t sign up, you’ll have to pay a penalty at tax time -- $95 per adult and $47.50 per child or 1 percent of annual household income, whichever is higher.
How do I sign up?
Go to healthcare.gov and set up an account. You’ll have to answer some questions about yourself and your income, then you can research coverage options. Arizona has more than 100 plan options for its residents, so taking time to research is important.
I thought the deadline was extended. When do I have to do this?
The deadline is still March 31. The federal government announced Tuesday that it would extend the deadline for people who had made a good-faith effort to apply and were considered “in line” for coverage. Otherwise, you still have to be covered by March 31. There are some exceptions based on job loss, marriage or other extenuating circumstances. The next open enrollment period won’t start again until Nov. 15.
What do all of these terms mean?
Healthcare.gov has an extensive glossary of terms related to health insurance. Here are a couple important terms: A premium is the amount you pay for your health insurance plan, usually paid monthly or quarterly. A deductible is a set amount that you have to pay before your insurance company will start to pay. A copayment or copay is a fixed amount that you pay whenever you receive a health service.
How much will I have to pay for insurance?
Will I still be able to see the same doctors?
Not all plans will allow you to see any doctor you choose, as some designate certain providers. You can find out which plans cover your doctor’s office by looking at the plan’s details at healthcare.gov before signing up.
I’ve never gotten health insurance before. Who can I ask for help?
The federal government has health insurance navigators stationed throughout the country to assist with the application process, and they’re not allowed to sway consumers toward any plan. You can find a map of Arizona’s navigators here or call 2-1-1 for assistance.
I already have health insurance through my job. Do I have to do anything?
If your job provides you with health insurance, you’re considered covered under Obamacare. You don’t need to do anything.
When will I be considered “covered” under the new insurance I choose?
If you apply between the 1st and 15th days of the month, the new insurance will start the first day of the following month. If you’re between the 16th day and last day of the month, it’ll begin the first day of the month after the next one. Basically, if you wait to apply until now or the March 31 deadline, insurance coverage will kick in on May 1.