Six Things to Know About the Health Insurance Marketplace November 21, 2014 If you are uninsured and never bought a health insurance plan, now is the time to learn some basics about health care plans so that you will be well equipped to make an educated decision. What is the Health Insurance Marketplace? The Health Insurance Marketplace – also called the Marketplace or Exchange – helps people enroll in health care coverage. By filling out an application in the Marketplace, you can find out if you or your family members are eligible to enroll in private insurance through an insurance company, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). You will be able to find out what health insurance plans are available in our area, find out if you’re eligible for financial help to pay for your plan, find out how much each plan costs and enroll in a plan. You can visit the Marketplace online and fill out an application at www.HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596. People with hearing impairments can contact the Marketplace through TTY at 1-855-889-4325. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can only enroll in health insurance in the Marketplace during “Open Enrollment”. Open Enrollment is the period of time during which people that are eligible can enroll in health insurance in the Marketplace. This year, Open Enrollment starts November 15, 2014 and ends February 15, 2015. There are some exceptions. You may be able to enroll in health coverage outside of Marketplace Open Enrollment if you have had a “qualifying life event”, such as getting married or divorced, having a baby or adopting a child or losing your job. Also, you can apply for Medicaid or CHIP at any time of the year. If you enrolled in private health insurance in the Marketplace during the last Open Enrollment, you will automatically enroll in the same plan unless you do something about it. To keep the plan you have now, you don’t have to do anything. But, if you want to change that plan, you must take action. The government and your insurance company will send you a notice – either either in the mail or an email – that will explain what to do. There are some exceptions to this, too. If you have Medicaid or the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, you must reenroll in health coverage every 12 months – renewal is not automatic. You may be eligible for financial assistance that may make buying health insurance more affordable. Many people want to have health insurance, but simply can’t afford it. In the Marketplace, you may be eligible for a discount or “subsidy” on your health insurance plan. Your eligibility is generally determined by your household income and family size. Many people qualify for these subsidies. If your income is up to four times the poverty line, around $95,000 for a family of four, you may qualify to receive this subsidy to help to pay for the cost of your health insurance. Remember, the only way you can be eligible for the subsidy is by purchasing health insurance through the Marketplace. Having health insurance is the law. As part of the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare) U.S. residents are required obtain and maintain health insurance coverage. Under the law, people who do not enroll in health insurance during the Open Enrollment period or Medicaid or CHIP throughout the year may be subject to tax penalties at the end of the year. In 2014, the penalty for being uninsured (unless you're exempt from buying insurance) is $95 or 1 percent of taxable income. In 2015, the penalty increases to $325 per adult or 2 percent of taxable income, whichever is greater. UnityPoint Health is here to help. As your health care provider, we are committed to making sure that you and your family not only stays healthy, but gets the answers and support you need to make the best decisions for health insurance coverage. Call us today at 1-888-275-5235 to schedule a free appointment with one of our specially trained Certified Application Counselors.