Facts for Living: Enrolling for insurance through the marketplace

By Rebecca McFarland, Frontier Extension District Agent

080714-facts-for-living1Individuals and families across our great state will be enrolling in health insurance or are renewing their health insurance through the federally run Health Insurance Marketplace, during open enrollment, Nov. 1, 2015, through Jan. 21, 2016. Since the new requirements for all to be insured began in 2014, more than 100,000 Kansans have gained insurance, mostly through the Kansas Health Insurance Marketplace, also called an exchange. Eighty-percent of people purchasing health insurance in the Marketplace are getting financial assistance paying for premiums.

As you prepare to enroll or renew:

  • Review the basics of insurance coverage. Do you understand how insurance works, including things like deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, copayments, co-insurance, and networks?
  • Learn about the different types of health coverage. Health plans offer different combinations of coverage and cost. You will want to pick the one that best meets your needs and the needs of your family.
  • Find out if your employer plans to offer health insurance in 2016. If your employer is not offering health insurance, you may need to get insurance through the marketplace or through a separate private insurance provider.
  • Gather information you will need to apply. Gather Social Security numbers, employers and income information for every member of your household who needs coverage.
  • Review your health care use over the past few years. Knowing how often and for what reasons you and the members of your household visit the doctor, including specialists, is an important consideration when determining your health insurance needs. It’s also important to gather information about your household’s prescriptions and consider if there will be any new health situations coming up in 2016 that you can plan for. Remember health insurance through the marketplace may not include dental or vision insurance. Read the policy carefully to see if they are included.
  • Create your marketplace account. Go to healthcare.gov and click on the “Get Coverage” tab. Choose your state and follow the instructions on the screen. You will be asked to provide the basic information about your household you gathered above. You will also choose your user name and password and create security questions to protect your information.
  • Set your budget. In the Health Insurance Marketplace, you will be able to choose the combination of coverage and cost that works best for you and your family. By reviewing your current spending patterns, you can figure out how much you can spend on health insurance premiums each month.

To learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace, see www.healthcare.gov. K-State Research and Extension’s Health Care blog and website is http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/health/healthcare/. You can also visit the Kansas Insurance Department site at www.ksinsurance.org and click on the “Health/Life” tab.


McFarland_RebeccaRebecca McFarland is the Frontier Extension District family and child development agent. For more information, she can be contacted at Frontier Extension’s Ottawa office, 1418 S. Main, Suite 2, Ottawa, KS 66067, or call 785-229-3520, or email [email protected].

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