Caregivers: Get Ready for Health Insurance Open Enrollment

Senior caregivers — especially CNAs and Home Health Aides, are certainly considered members of the healthcare industry. Ironically, many don’t have adequate health insurance. If you are a Certified Nursing Aide or other professional caregiver and work through a quality senior home care agency or nursing home, chances are you have some medical insurance coverage through your employer. However, if you work as an independent contractor, come 2014, you will need to enroll in a health insurance plan per the Affordable Care Act.

If this affects you, our friends at eHealthInsurance.com have recently released answers to frequently asked questions regarding health insurance open enrollment for 2014.

Open Enrollment for 2014 Health Plans: Frequently Asked Questions

When is the new open enrollment period?

The first-ever open enrollment period for individual and family health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act begins October 1, 2013 and continues through March 31, 2014. Open enrollment periods in succeeding years will be shorter than this one-time six-month period.

What is an open enrollment period?

The Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period is when individuals and families can purchase health insurance plans that meet the requirements of the health reform law. Coverage under these new plans will begin no earlier than January 1, 2014. New health plans will provide coverage for essential health benefits defined by the ACA. Consumers who qualify will be able to apply for government subsidies and enroll without fear of being denied for pre-existing medical conditions.

Who needs to apply for coverage during open enrollment?

The new open enrollment period is for individuals and families who do not have employer-sponsored major medical health insurance meeting the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. If you already have employer-based major medical health benefits, you do not necessarily need to enroll in a new plan during the open enrollment period, but rather through your employer’s own open enrollment period for group coverage. If your share of your employer-sponsored health insurance monthly premium is deemed too costly under the law, you may choose to opt out of that plan and purchase a qualified health plan with subsidy assistance, depending on your income level.

Will I be required to purchase a health insurance plan during this period?

If you are currently uninsured and wish to enroll in a health reform-compliant plan for 2014, you will need to enroll during this open enrollment period. If you don’t purchase a health reform-compliant plan, you may be subject to a tax penalty and it may be difficult to find and qualify for health insurance later in the year. If you are currently enrolled in an individually purchased health insurance plan, you may be able to retain your current coverage into 2014. Ask your health insurance company for more details.

What happens if I don’t purchase during the open enrollment period?

Outside of open enrollment, your ability to apply for health insurance may vary from state to state. It may be limited to the occurrence of a qualifying event, such as the loss of a job, a marriage or divorce, a move, or the birth of a child. 

What if I miss open enrollment and don’t have a qualifying event?

You may be able to purchase a health plan that is not in compliance with the health reform law, like a short-term health insurance plan. However, these plans may not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act and you may be subject to a tax penalty on your 2014 federal tax return.

If you need to shop for affordable insurance, we’ve made it easy for you to compare the rates of healthcare insurance providers.

Caregivers, let us know — how do you feel about mandatory healthcare insurance and the Affordable Care Act? Are you covered through your Senior Home Care Agency?

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