Preparing for the insurance mandate

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Updated: Wed, 04 Dec 2013 04:35:27 CST

Are you prepared for October 1st? The clock is ticking as we approach the enrollment opening for the healthcare marketplace. 

Calls have been coming in to non-profit groups around the Tri-Cities as Nebraskans try to grasp the Affordable Care Act, but as time runs out, many people are still left in the dark.

"There's quite a few out there that really have not had a lot of information on it. So I think its going to be very challenging for us to go out there and be able to present some information," said Jose Zapata, Executive Director of Central Nebraska Community Services.

That's the challenge certified Affordable Care Act navigators like Heidi Zoellner face.  And she says all types of people are seeking help.

"Younger people, older people, retired folks, people on Medicare that are concerned, single parents, the lower income folks, just across the gamut," said Zoellner.

That's why groups like the Community Action Partnership of Mid-Nebraska and Central Nebraska Community Services have navigators in place, as they try and make your healthcare choices more legible.

"A lot of it is like, when you go to the supermarket, and you go shopping, and you want to know where the food is and where the healthy food is, and that's what we're trying to do," said Zapata.

On October 1st the online marketplace will open.  While you can surf healthcare-dot-gov on your own, navigators are here to help.

"Talk about their income, what their health care needs are and navigate through the marketplace and find their healthcare choices or options," said Zoellner.

The marketplace website is up and running, with one exception.  The exact policies and prices won't be shown until that October 1st opening.  But as you await those policies, there is some paperwork you need to get in place.

"Their income tax forms so they know about what level they're going to qualify at, they need to have any medical records available, social security cards, those kinds of things," said Zapata.

Once all that is in order, and the policies are available, it's all about what works for you.

"Policies are going to be different prices and it's about how it fits into your budget," said Zoellner.

While the marketplace opens October 1st, Zapata says you still have plenty of time to find your best fit.

"October 1st really is the first day you can get registered, but its not election day, they actually won't get their cards until January 1st.  So there's plenty of time for them to go in and look around, get some good information, go back to their families and then make a decision," said Zapata.

While the plans selected starting October 1-st will go into effect the beginning of next year, open enrollment doesn't close until March 31st.