Oct. 4, 2013 -- Are you waiting to get access to the new health insuranceMarketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act? Since launching Oct. 1, the federal and state web sites that offer the plans have been overwhelmed by users, and many people have not been able to create accounts or get information.
If you’re one of them, there are steps you can take to get ready while you’re waiting to get online. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do everything right away. Open enrollment lasts until March 31, 2014. If you want your coverage to start Jan. 1, 2014, you must sign up by Dec. 15 of this year.
Here’s the information you need to apply for a plan:
- Personal information: Full names, date of birth, and Social Security numbers for everyone you want on your policy.
- Income/taxes: If you plan to file a federal tax return next year, will it be an individual or joint return? Will you have dependents? Are you claimed as a dependent? Do you have other income or deductions? What is your projected household income for 2014?
- Citizenship status: The citizenship status of everyone on your application.
- Employment: Employer name and address, estimated current wages.
- Repeat: You’ll have to provide the same information for your spouse or partner, children who live with you, and anyone else who is on your federal tax return.
- Current health coverage: If anyone on your application currently has health insurance, you will need the details of that plan. That includes federal and state programs such as Medicaid and CHIP, employer programs, and COBRA.
- Get ready to pay: You can pay by check, cashier’s check, money order, bank transfer, prepaid debit card, or automatic deduction from a credit or debit card.
Other Things to Have on Hand
- Your doctors: Make a note of your doctors and their specialties. When you get into the application process, you’ll be able to see if they are in or out of the network of the plans you are considering. That will affect how much it would cost you to see them.
- Your medications: Have a list of all the medications you and your family members take. Your plan may have a list of preferred medications, called a drug formulary.
- Costs: Each plan will have different deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. Compare those you find on the Marketplace with the cost of your premiums to understand what your total costs will be.