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Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014

Understanding Obamacare: You Still Have Time to Enroll

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Question: Do I still have time to sign up for Obamacare?

Answer: Yes, the Affordable Care Act gives people ample opportunity to sign up for quality and affordable health care. The open enrollment session is only half over.

Starting on Jan. 1, more than a million Wisconsinites gained the right to access coverage that could no longer discriminate because of pre-existing conditions or gender. Thousands have already enrolled. Consumers have until March 31 to sign up for coverage. These enrollment sessions and deadlines are important because they encourage personal responsibility.

But the law recognizes that when big life events happen, coverage needs to change. The Affordable Care Act gives people the opportunity to enroll into marketplace coverage through special enrollment periods for major life changes, such as getting married, having or adopting a child, moving to a new area, losing health coverage from a job, expiring COBRA coverage, a divorce and more.

That’s not all. If you’re already enrolled in a marketplace plan, a change in income or household makeup will give you the opportunity to enroll in a new policy. You can enroll in BadgerCare any time during the year if you become financially eligible. And lastly, small businesses can offer health coverage to their employees at any time.

Flexibility is important, but so is responsibility. The law encourages people to get coverage early before they need it. After all, you don’t wait until your house is on fire before calling around for quotes for home insurance. Likewise, you shouldn’t wait for a health crisis before signing up for health insurance. But no matter what, you will have guaranteed access to quality, affordable health coverage, thanks to Obamacare.

—Kevin Kane, lead organizer, Citizen Action of Wisconsin

The Shepherd Express and Citizen Action of Wisconsin will answer questions about the Affordable Care Act during its implementation. Got a question? Email editor@shepex.com.