Next Steps

Our role at this point is to advance the ACA, working to ensure that its aim – health care access and coverage for people at greatest risk, such as those we serve – is achieved. Together, we can help the people we serve learn about and sign up for the health insurance available to them under the ACA.  So, join Lady Gaga and Walgreens, Magic Johnson and the Baltimore Ravens, and many others and get the word out. Here’s how.

What can we do to help?
  • We can educate ourselves and others about the advantages now available from enrolling in a health care reform insurance plan. A good place to start is the federal government , which details what individual states have to offer but also the different types of available health care insurance coverage. It also covers the enrollment options, costs, and benefits associated with each plan.
  • We can let consumers and families know that for an overview of online information (available in both English and Spanish), they should consider getting online through HHS’s ACA portal in English or Spanish. If a computer isn’t available at home, people can usually get online at a local library or community center. Another source of information, an on-line FAQ, has been prepared by the Alliance for Health Reform. It’s something you can read and share. Not only does it answer common questions, but it also provides live links to key resources.
  • We can help connect the people we serve directly with their state’s relevant Marketplace, whether it is run by the state, by the state in collaboration with the federal government, or by the federal government alone. Find both Internet and phone links to the right marketplace for each state and the District of Columbia.
  • We can help consumers and family members find out if they’re eligible to buy coverage through the Marketplaces, or if they are Medicaid-eligible, by using the site.
  • We can help the people we serve learn more about how a Marketplace works.
  • We can let them know that they can call for information 24 hours a day, seven days a week by toll-free telephone at: 1-800-318-2596 ; or1-855-889-4325 (TTY).
  • We can let them know that accommodations are available for persons with disabilities and that materials are adapted for non-English speakers in over 150 different languages; many Marketplace personnel, including navigators and other trained assisters, are multilingual (including ASL).
  • We can let them know that now is the time to get enrolled. Each state Marketplace will tell consumers automatically if they qualify for discounts or qualify to participate in other state programs, like Medicaid, based on their income. Once a consumer is approved, he or she can choose the best health plan through the online plan comparison tool, or based on information provided on-site by navigators, or through mailed information following a phone call to the Marketplace.
  • Given some of the delays being encountered due to heavy volume, we can remind consumers and their families that there is still plenty of time to apply for coverage and get enrolled. Everyone has until December 15 to choose and enroll in a specific plan and still enjoy January 1 start up.
  • We can remind the people we serve that they may well qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage instead of ACA Marketplace plan coverage. If so, their health coverage will be effective immediately.

Given the considerable unevenness in how states are implementing the ACA Marketplace roll-out, including foot dragging and refusing to permit Navigators to do their jobs, we must be particularly vigilant and persistent in our efforts.

Our role at this point is to ensure that as many of our low-income consumers as possible who now lack health coverage gain access to it through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and health insurance Marketplaces, no matter how they are structured, no matter by whom they are managed. And our role at this time is to work together to ensure that the mission of the ACA is achieved. After all, as Emerson said, “health is our first wealth.” Let’s all work together—and encourage others to do as as well—to grasp the opportunity to enrich our Nation with health as envisioned in the ACA. It’s the chance of a lifetime for social change, for behavioral health, and for the millions of people we serve.

Researched and written by Teddi Fine

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