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Separating The Myths From The Facts About Health Insurance

Signing up for a health insurance plan can be daunting and time consuming. As a Certified Enrollment Counselor, my job is to make it easier for South Lake Tahoe families and individuals to navigate Covered California and enroll in a health care plan.

With all the talk the about health care, I have heard rumblings and rumors about what is happening with the Affordable Care Act and what is changing with insurance. Get informed! Make a free one-on-one appointment with me or one my fellow enrollment counselors, have your questions answered, and get enrolled for 2019.

Uncertain about the next steps? Below I have tried to separate the myths from the facts.

Myth: The open enrollment period is short.

Fact: It is true that all states that use HealthCare.gov (the federal exchange) and Nevada Health Link (Nevada’s state-run exchange) only have a six week enrollment period, between November 1 and December 15, to enroll in a health care plan. Covered California (California’s exchange) has not taken this federal recommendation. Californians must enroll by December 15 to be insured on January 1, but are eligible to enroll any time between October 15, 2018 to January 15, 2019.

Myth: I should not bother enrolling because President Trump/Congress/others will get rid of Obamacare in 2019.
Fact: There was a lot of presidential and congressional talk about health care in 2018, but you are still able to enroll for all of 2019.

Myth: I can’t afford health insurance.
Fact: Monthly premiums must be paid, regardless of how well you are. However, if you experience an unexpected injury or disease and are uninsured, you will have to cover medical costs out-of-pocket. 

Myth: There are no health insurance plans in South Lake Tahoe and I don’t have any options.  
Fact: In this area, there are multiple plans for different premiums. During this open enrollment period, I encourage you to speak with an enrollment counselor and select a plan that works for you.

Myth: This is the only time of year to enroll in a health care plan.
Fact: Yes, this is the only time frame a person can select health care plan unless he or she experiences a “life qualifying event.” After a major life event (e.g. getting married, becoming a parent, or losing a job), a person has 60 days to enroll in a health care plan. One exception: Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round through Covered CA website or by calling the South Lake Tahoe Medi-Cal Office at 530.573.3200.

Myth: Getting help with enrollment costs money.
Fact: Barton Health offers enrollment support and assistance for California residents at no cost. All potential enrollees must have a photo ID, social security number, and their 2017 income. Enrollment assistance is available in English, Spanish, and other languages.

Marco Huerta works at Barton Health. This is his fifth year as a certified enrollment counselor. For more information, go to bartonhealth.org/enroll or call 530.600.1984 or 530.600.1945 to schedule an appointment.