The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to as Obamacare, launched its open enrollment last year to general confusion, thanks to technological problems with the Healthcare.gov website, not to mention a population that was largely unaware of what Obamacare was and how it worked. Still, with millions of Americans uninsured and incapable of paying for preventive care, much less major medical expenses, this system designed to provide affordable healthcare for everyone became a huge success, with more than 20 million people signing up as of the close of the first open enrollment period earlier this year. And more and more people are coming to see the advantages of using Obamacare. That said, you need to understand a few things going in if you want to get the most out of this healthcare system. Here are a few helpful tips for optimizing your usage.
- Choose a provider and plan. Although Obamacare is a federal plan, it is administered at the state level, complete with a variety of providers and plans to suit every patient’s medical needs and economic restrictions, thus providing affordable care for all. With help from appropriate sources in your state, you should be able to determine which options will work best for you so that you can select an appropriate insurance provider and healthcare plan.
- Get your ID card. Like any type of insurance, you’re probably going to have to provide proof of enrollment in a plan when you show up for appointments. If you don’t automatically receive a card from your insurance provider, you’ll want to call to confirm your enrollment and ask for a card, a printable form, or at least the information you’ll need (policy and group numbers, for example) so that your healthcare providers can bill accordingly and your costs will be covered.
- Learn your way around the website. Your most valuable source of information about services is probably going to be your web portal. Not only can you access personal information pertaining to your plan, but you can also find listings of approved healthcare providers and facilities in your area, services that are covered by your plan, and of course, contact information (including email, phone, and possibly even live chat options) so that you can get any questions answered in a timely manner.
- Call to confirm. It’s not surprising that there is still confusion about the ins and outs of Obamacare, considering how complex the system is. But your best bet if you’re not sure what your insurance covers is to seek help at the local level. Before you see a doctor or visit a facility for care, simply call ahead to confirm with the staff that your particular plan will cover the costs of treatment.
- Meet your obligations. There are all kinds of resources for Obamacare information at your disposal, but they’ll only pay off if you meet your own financial obligations, which is to say, you need to make sure you pay your premiums on time and/or keep up with necessary paperwork. This way you can ensure that coverage is available when you need it.