It’s Here — Open Enrollment Starts Today

By Anne Filipic

Anne Filipic serves as President of Enroll America.

Today, millions of lives are about to change. For too long, finding quality, affordable health insurance has been impossible for too many.

Not anymore. Starting today, for the first time, millions of uninsured Americans in every state in the country have access to a Health Insurance Marketplace where they have more choices, more affordable health insurance plans, and new financial help to access health coverage and care.

For families who lie awake at night worried that a broken bone or unexpected illness could lead to bankruptcy, this is life-changing news. That means the substitute teacher we met in Florida, who can’t find an affordable health insurance plan for his family because of a pre-existing condition, will be able to get covered, and the grad student from Ohio, who goes without his daily prescription because he is uninsured, will be able to find a plan that meets his needs.

In the past, the process for applying for individual health insurance was complex and difficult to navigate, and the costs were far out of reach for many. That’s all changing now. Individuals and families now can compare health insurance plans side-by-side with no fine print or sales pitch. And they get can get expert help — on the phone, online, or in-person — to help choose the plan that’s right for them.

Now, uninsured consumers everywhere have a new way to find health insurance that fits their needs and their budget. Millions of consumers will have access to tax credits and cost-sharing assistance to help with the cost of coverage by purchasing a plan through the Marketplace, and millions more will be eligible for free or low-cost health insurance through expanded Medicaid coverage in many states.

What’s more, all health insurance plans must cover essential benefits like doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital stays, maternity care, and more.

Through the Get Covered America campaign, we are working in communities across the country to raise awareness and get consumers the information they want and need about the new health insurance options that will now be available to them. At barbershops, farmers markets, churches, and front porches, our volunteers are telling their neighbors and friends that help is on the way.

With such a major undertaking, we know that there will be some glitches and kinks in the system as it gets up and running. The important thing is that those problems are being identified quickly, solutions are being devised, and we are sharing those solutions with enrollment experts across the country. Remember, whether consumers sign up for health insurance on October 1st or December 15th this year, their coverage will still begin on January 1, 2014. This is not a sprint but a marathon, and we’re in it for the long haul.

Here’s the bottom line: the Affordable Care Act is a historic improvement to a health care system that has not worked for millions of Americans who deserve a fair shot at accessing health coverage. And today is just the start of a new era for those families.

We’ll be there with them every step of the way to make sure they’re getting the information and help they need to get covered. Thank you for joining us in this effort.


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