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Surviving the scramble for Jan. 1 health coverage


Consumers aren't the only ones scrambling to enroll in health plans by Dec. 23 to be covered on Jan. 1. Insurance companies selling through the health law’s troubled online marketplaces are scrambling to process applications and make sure coverage is in place, reports Kaiser Health News. 

eHealth customer care director Carrie McLean advises consumers not to panic if they've enrolled in and paid for a plan but haven't received their ID card yet.

"The carriers are going to be several weeks behind in processing, so customers may not get their ID cards right away. But if they get a confirmation that they’re application has been submitted to the carrier for processing, and pay by the effective date, they should be fine," McLean says.

For people who make the Dec. 23 deadline, the first month's premium isn't due until Jan. 10 in many cases, even though the health care plan is effective Jan. 1, because of a recent extension granted by most but not all carriers. Consumers should check with their carrier of choice to make sure it applies. 

"If you've done that, then you’re fine for that Jan 1 effective date," McLean says.  If you need to go to the doctor and your ID card hasn't arrived, call the carrier and get your policy ID number so they can bill the insurance company, she advises.  Otherwise you may have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed by your insurer after the fact.  


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