Jan 13, 2014 3:53 PM by MELISSA CANONE
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana advises people that this Wednesday, Jan. 15, is the last day to buy a plan on the federal health insurance marketplace, or exchange, and have coverage start on Feb. 1.
While the marketplace is scheduled to remain open through March 31, people who buy plans after Jan. 15 will not have effective coverage until March 1 or later.
Several major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the healthcare reform law passed in 2010, went into effect this year. Most Americans are now required to have healthcare coverage or pay a fine. People who purchase their own insurance and do not get healthcare coverage through an employer or government program, such as Medicaid or Medicare, can shop for plans in the marketplace.
Customers have several options for purchasing health insurance through the marketplace. They can:
· Buy directly online at www.healthcare.gov
· Call a local agent or broker
· Work with a marketplace navigator - visit
www.healthcare.gov/contact-us to locate one nearby
· Call the marketplace hotline, open 24/7, at 1-800-318-2596, TTY 1-855-889-4325.
o A marketplace hotline for people who get health insurance through small businesses/groups is available at 1-800-706-7893, TTY 1-800-706-7915. This hotline is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central Time.
· Call a particular insurance carrier. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana representatives are available at 1-800-363-9221, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time.
Blue Cross is one of four Louisiana health insurance companies selling products in the state's marketplace. It is the only company on the Louisiana marketplace offering plans from all four metal, or pricing, levels to residents in all areas of the state.
People who plan to shop for insurance in the marketplace will need to have the following pieces of information available:
· A personal email address for the person who will be purchasing the insurance policy.
· The Social Security numbers of all members of the family/household who will get coverage through that policy (such as the person's spouse, children or other dependent relatives).
· If applying for a government subsidy: employer and income information for all members of the household who will get coverage through that policy, such as pay stubs and W-2 forms.
· Policy numbers for any health insurance coverage they have already.
Advance premium tax credits, or "subsidies," are available for people buying health insurance through the marketplace who earn between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to help them pay for their health insurance premiums. Under current guidelines, 400% of the FPL is an annual income of $45,960 for a single adult and $94,200 for a family of four.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has added an online premium calculator to its healthcare reform site to help Louisianians estimate what they could pay for a silver-level insurance plan next year and whether they might qualify for a subsidy. Go to www.bcbsla.com/whatyoupay, enter your household size (the number of people, including adults and children, in your family) and your household income before taxes in the boxes indicated. You will get a real-time estimate on what your insurance coverage would cost next year, as well as if you might qualify for a subsidy.
For more information about the coming changes under the ACA and what the options are for healthcare coverage, shoppers are encouraged to visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana healthcare reform site, www.bcbsla.com/reform.