HOUSTON - Between lost jobs, lost coverage, and a Supreme Court case that could wipe out healthcare for 20 million Americans, it may seem like the worst of times for health insurance in the U.S.
“We know what it was like before the Affordable Care Act,” recalls Joshua Peck, former chief marketing officer for Healthcare.gov. “We know that there were annual and lifetime limits on coverage. We know that women paid more than men for coverage.”
The Trump administration cut the Affordable Care Act outreach and education budget by 90 percent.
Peck, who is now the co-founder of non-profit Get America Covered, says that has left some believing the healthcare option no longer exists.
“Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country. It's a staggering number and you know the need, particularly in the middle of a pandemic is incredibly high,” says Peck.
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Another thought that is keeping the uninsured at bay is the perception of high premiums on the marketplace.
According to Get America Covered, the more expensive options are still there, but this year most can get plans for $10 a month or less as over the years, competition has gone up and costs have gone down.
“You could literally get it for free, and that's because not because these plans are cheap, but federal subsidies can make those premiums so low for so many people,” adds Peck.
But what about the rumor report that marketplace care is, well, careless?
“We did a poll just last month and found that 83% of ACA customers report being satisfied. Among the things they're satisfied with are choice of doctors,” explains Peck.
Still, a Supreme Court case to be heard by a panel of majority conservative judges is scheduled for November 10, and could rule the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional.
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But an actual decision isn't expected until the middle of next year when the judges typically save their rulings on the most controversial cases for the end of term.
“You should be focusing on what your family needs right now, and if you need coverage, this is the time to get it,” says Peck.
To get the facts, he recommends spending 15 minutes on the healthcare marketplace getting quotes for your specific income and family size. The deadline to sign up is December 15, and those who miss the window will have to wait a year for another opportunity if the ACA is still intact.
Visit healthcare.gov for plans and pricing.
While healthcare hangs in the balance, signing up could offer some peace of mind during the pandemic.