It’s official. The government might be shutdown, but the healthcare exchanges are open for business. Here is some information to answer all your questions about the exchanges and what if might mean for you if you are considering divorce.
One of the biggest concerns of couples facing a divorce in North Carolina is what they are going to do about their health insurance? If they have been covered by their spouse’s plan for years, there is immediate concern and worry about what will happen to them after the divorce is final. Until the opening of these healthcare exchanges, the only realistic option was to continue coverage through COBRA. Under COBRA, you can stay on your spouse’s health insurance for up to 36 months after the divorce is final. But that was really just a band-aid, especially if you are older, have pre-existing conditions, and can’t readily access affordable health insurance.
The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, changes all that. There are people with strong opinions both for and against Obamacare. Whether you like it or not, here are some things you need to know:
- If you already have insurance, through your employer or elsewhere, you don’t need to do anything. But if you are separated and facing the prospect of divorce, then you should log on to the exchange and see what it is going to cost for you to get covered. The first day you can go to the exchanges is October 1, 2013, and insurance will become effective on January 1, 2014.
- You cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Previously, this was a major concern for some of my clients – getting kicked off their spouse’s coverage and not being able to find a new policy. This is not longer a concern. In addition, you will not have to pay more for coverage just because of your pre-existing condition.
- The cost of coverage is still a big question mark. It will depend in part on how much you make, how many people are going to be covered under your plan, and the type of coverage you select. Depending on your income level, you may receive certain tax breaks. The only way to know for sure is to go to the exchanges and do some shopping to compare what is available to what you currently have.
- If you are on medicare, nothing will change. In fact, you may receive additional benefits.
- If you do not sign up, you will subject yourself to a financial penalty.
Ready for Obamacare? Dr. Nancy Snyderman answers your questions from NBCnews.com