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NASW members urged to inform others about new health insurance options

Rena Malai, News staff

The major provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which aims to ensure that all Americans have health insurance, will go into effect Jan. 1. The next significant step in implementing the law is the open enrollment process for health care coverage, which begins Oct. 1.

Open enrollment is an opportunity for people without insurance to explore different options and determine which is right for them. Coverage begins on Jan. 1 for new enrollees.

“Consumers will have many avenues for exploring coverage options,” NASW Senior Practice Associate Stacy Collins said.

At the federal level, the “health insurance marketplace” website (www.healthcare.gov) is a portal where individual and families can determine their eligibility for different health insurance programs, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program and qualified health plans within their states, Collins said.

“The Marketplace portal is a great tool for people to review and compare insurance plans and determine the best fit, based on their needs and budgets,” Collins said, adding that many people will qualify for federal tax subsidies to purchase plans on the health insurance marketplace, depending on their incomes.

Each state will also have its own enrollment system, using health insurance navigators and application counselors, to assist consumers in enrolling in coverage. In addition, many states will have their own insurance marketplace portals.

“Whether they work in health care and behavioral health settings, child welfare departments, social service agencies, criminal justice, academia, or private practice, all social workers will encounter people who are uninsured,” Collins said. “Therefore, social workers need to understand the ACA enrollment process.”

There are a variety of resources to help social workers become familiar with and promote the enrollment process. Marketplace.cms.gov has enrollment resources for professionals, including posters, fact sheets, website widgets, informational videos, and brochures published in multiple languages. Other websites that offer social workers open enrollment resources include www.enrollamerica.org and www.familiesusa.org.

From the September 2013 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story after logging in.

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