Financial Corner: Health Care Coverage Special Enrollment
One of the first things President Biden accomplished since taking office was by signing executive orders that will begin to restore and strengthen Americans’ access to affordable and quality health care. Let’s review what he has done and what that can mean for you, your family, and/or your friends. While you read this article, think of other people who you think could benefit and let them know. Just because most of you understand the need for quality insurance as a result of your cancer, others may not need it now but what if something happens in the future and they don’t have it? No one expects cancer to happen to them, it happens to other people, Right?
The first executive order he signed in regards to health care was to reopen the enrollment period to sign up in the Health Insurance Marketplace (healthcare.gov). Many states that operate their own websites to enroll residents in the healthcare exchange have followed suit and have also opened. This special enrollment lasts from February 15th through May 15th, 2021. After a horrible year of the pandemic and the needs that have arisen as a result, this should be a huge step in bringing affordable healthcare to those who have lost their jobs and find themselves uninsured. The process is very simple and can be done via a phone call or online. And for those who have an illness, this is very comforting because the previous threat to limit access to quality and affordable care because of a preexisting condition is no longer on the table.
In addition, President Biden is directing federal agencies to reconsider rules and other policies that currently limit Americans’ access to health care as well as consider rules and actions that will protect and strengthen that access.
Agencies will be directed to review:
- Policies that undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID-19; (Critical since some of these complications can be long-term or lifelong).
- Demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid and the ACA that may reduce coverage or undermine the programs, including work requirements;
- Policies that undermine the Health Insurance Marketplace or other markets that sell health insurance;
- Policies that make it more difficult to enroll in Medicaid and the Affordable Health care Act; and
- Policies that reduce the affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents. This is important because many people think of children and college-age adults only as dependents but this could be an adult child that is permanently disabled that you take care of.
These timely steps could provide additional coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. Some of whom may qualify for free or subsidized health insurance.
As a cancer patient, you realize the cost of healthcare. Having quality care and affordable care can be what allows you to be proactive in your healthcare with your healthcare team to stay on your treatment plan as well as to mitigate and prevent financial toxicity.
While thinking about these opportunities, don’t forget to consider your current insurance plan if you are enrolled in a Medicare Supplement, Medicare Advantage, or employer plan. Review with your healthcare providers to find out if your treatment may change. Then inquire if the costs are going to change as a result of medication changes or treatment facilities? Or perhaps you anticipate retiring before Medicare age or going on disability. Perhaps you are already on disability and will be completing the 2-year mark and can go on Medicare. Now is the time to review your options before the enrollment period expires.
Make sure you have the best possible insurance for your needs that you can afford. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by without investigating its benefits. Take a step to strengthen your health insurance program and possibly lighten your financial load.
Additional information can be found at:
- FACT SHEET: President Biden to sign Executive Orders Strengthening Americans’ Access to Quality Affordable Health Care
- Patient Empowerment Network
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Diahanna Vallentine, BCPA, Financial Empowerment Lead
In 2002 Diahanna and her husband received the news that her husband had MGUS, a precursor to Multiple Myeloma. Upon her husband death in 2013, Diahanna immediately decided to make it her mission to help patients and caregivers empower themselves to speak up and to position themselves as partners in their treatment. Diahanna became a Board-Certified Patient Advocate. She is currently the Financial Myeloma Coach for The Myeloma Crowd Foundation.