Time is almost up. March 31 is the last day this year for most people to sign up for health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act. If you have started the process and encountered problems, you have until April 15 to request an extension.
"Remember, if you don't have health insurance you may have to pay a penalty, and if you do get sick, you won't be turned away from an emergency room but you will leave with a bill," says Nicole Duritz, AARP vice president for health education and outreach. And you'll have to wait until November to sign up for a plan that won't take effect until 2015.
Here are resources that could make the process easier.
- The AARP HealthLawAnswers.org can tell you how the law affects you and your family, based on where you live, what sort of coverage you have now and your ages and genders. What preventive care must your insurance cover, for instance, how do you get Medicaid coverage and how do you find out about plans available in the marketplace? The site can help you make informed decisions.
- At HealthCare.gov you can buy insurance or just window shop. Plug in a few vital stats and it will let you know whether you qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program or for subsidies to help pay for private insurance.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield asks whether you can afford not to have coverage, by laying out the costs of health emergencies if you don't have insurance. It also notes that you can text 4Subsidy to 222-752 to find out whether you are eligible for assistance paying for coverage.
- If you have Medicare, the deadline doesn't affect you. But AARP lets you know here how the law affects Medicare.
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- Get free assistance with tax-return preparation from Tax-Aide
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
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