Obamacare Enrollment is Now Open!

No 1 - No Denying Coverageby Ben Carter, NMAC Communications Specialist

The arrival and opening of the Healthcare Marketplaces on October 1st, 2013 will be the most important moment in health care history for people living with HIV (PLWH) since the Ryan White Care Act was enacted back in August of 1990.

It’s currently estimated that nearly 140,000 PLWHA being served by Ryan White do not have health insurance. Countless others who are vulnerable to infection also lack coverage.  The Affordable Care Act represents an amazing opportunity to ensure coverage for all PLWHA in the same way the Ryan White Care Act represented a nation’s recognition of PLWHA’s especial need for healthcare solutions.

Why All the Fuss?

The Affordable Care Act, also popularly known as “Obamacare”, will bring new healthcare coverage options and protections to many who’ve never been protected against health insurance discrimination or who could not afford health insurance premiums to begin with.

Through a Medicaid expansion, some states are taking advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s easing of restrictions to qualify for Medicaid; a program originally developed to cover the healthcare needs of poor women, children and the disabled.

More than the Medicaid expansion, the Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Marketplaces will increase the pool of those who can access private insurance. There are several payment assistance options for moderate and low income people and families. Premiums for single people not covered by their employer or Medicaid will most times still be below $100 a month. Take some time to read about the Tax Credits and Cost Sharing of Obamacare. This will be very helpful for those who make enough to get by, but not enough to purchase health insurance on their own.

A few especially important highlights of the Affordable Care Act for people living with HIV:

  • Health insurance companies can not deny you coverage based on having a pre-existing condition like HIV.
  • Health plans can no longer place caps on spending for health services, or raise premiums on those that get sick.
  • In states that are participating in the Medicaid expansion, if you earn less than $15,000 for a single person or $19,500 for a couple you’ll become eligible for Medicaid in 2014.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a fantastic video to help break down the law.

You can learn more about how the Affordable Care Act will give PLWHA opportunities to improve their health by visiting www.hivhealthreform.org.

Greater Than AIDS has a wonderful resource for people living with HIV to figure out their healthcare coverage situation. Visit http://greaterthan.org/campaign/obamacare/

Be sure to check out the Market Health Plan Assessment Tool. It’s designed to help in determining which plans are particularly well or ill suited for an individual living with HIV: http://www.hivhealthreform.org/2013/09/07/marketplace-health-plan-assessment-tool/

To visit the actual Healthcare Marketplace and start exploring your state’s new health insurance options, visit www. healthcare.gov.