As we have discussed, today is the day that the Health Insurance Marketplaces open so that consumers can compare plans and shop for affordable insurance coverage. The Marketplaces will make health insurance coverage available to the 48 million Americans who are currently uninsured.
As you have heard in the news, Congress is gridlocked over funding for the government and its activities for the new fiscal year (which also starts today). As a result, the federal government is partially shut down.
So what does the shutdown mean for people with cancer and their health care coverage?
It is important to point out that the shutdown does not affect Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. These programs will continue during the shutdown.
In addition, the Health Insurance Marketplaces have opened as scheduled. While consumers may see some glitches that were expected for the early days of the marketplaces, these are unrelated to the shutdown. The marketplaces are supported by funding sources that are separate from the issues being discussed in Congress, so they will remain open throughout the shutdown.
Again, since it is the first day the marketplaces are open, you may experience delays. Please be patient and try again if you are unable to access your state’s marketplace via phone or its website. Also, keep in mind that you can purchase insurance as late as December 15th and still have coverage begin in January as required by the health care reform law, so you have a little time.
As you shop, please remember to use the Cancer Insurance Checklist which is now available to help you compare and choose health insurance plans in the Marketplace.
The team at the Cancer Support Community will monitor the impact of the federal government shutdown on people impacted by cancer and will provide updates as necessary.
As always, please contact CSC’s Cancer Support Helpline at 1-888-793-9355 if you need assistance with any cancer-related issues.