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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Meet the Deadlines for Getting Health Insurance

Starting in 2013, many Americans could buy health insurance in a new way in your state's health insurance Marketplace, also called an Exchange.

How Long Will It Take You?

Some people may only need 15-20 minutes to pull together the information needed to enroll in a plan. Others may need a week. You may need some time to review and think about the health plan you want to choose. Or you may already have a good idea of what you want.

If any of the following situations apply to you, you may want to give yourself some more time to pull your info together or review the health plans available to you.

  • You or your spouse had a lot of jobs in the last year.
  • You are covering a large family.
  • You see a lot of doctors that you want to keep seeing.
  • You buy a lot of prescription medicines.
  • You tend to procrastinate.
  • Your medical and financial records aren’t organized.

Think about your style and preferences as you follow these steps.

Step 1: Note the key dates and deadlines in your calendar.

If your employer offers health insurance, get key dates from your HR department. 

If you're planning to buy health insurance through your state's Marketplace, here are the key dates:

  • Oct. 1, 2013: The first day you can buy insurance in your state's Marketplace
  • Dec. 23, 2013: The last day you can buy insurance in federally operated Marketplaces and have your coverage start Jan. 1, 2014.
  • Jan. 1, 2014: The first day you can have insurance coverage if you buy insurance in the Marketplace
  • March 31, 2014: The last day you can buy insurance in your state's Marketplace to be covered for 2014
  • Nov. 15, 2014: The first day of the next open enrollment period

Step 2: Think about how much time you'll need to gather the necessary information.

To help you know how long it may take you, consider these questions:

  1. Do you know where your pay stubs are for the last year? What about your most recent tax filing? If you don't know either, how likely is it that you're going to have to track these down from an employer and the IRS?
  2. Do you have other sources of income like interest from a bank account or unemployment benefits? If so, do you know where that info is?
  3. Do you have the Social Security number for everyone you're getting insurance for?

Step 3: Consider how long it will take you to list doctors you want to see.

List full names (spelled correctly) for all the doctors you want to keep seeing.

  • Family doctor
  • Child's pediatrician
  • Eye doctor
  • Dentist
  • OB/GYN
  • Physical therapist or occupational therapist
  • Mental health counselor
  • Specialists such as a urologist, endocrinologist, or cardiologist
  • Names of hospitals and their locations if you have a preference

You will need this information so you'll know who to look for when you're reviewing provider networks for any health plan you're considering.

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