Winter 2014 Health Link Online

HealthLink Online

Uniting Children, Parents, Caregivers, and Health Professionals

Affordable Health Insurance

Affordable Health Insurance

Go to the now functioning “Health Insurance Marketplace” to apply for coverage. Many early educators are eligible for reduced cost insurance. The options include subsidized private insurance, Medicaid, the state’s Child Health Insurance Plan as well as unsubsidized plans.

For the first time, federal law requires consumer access to information that lines up all the options with each other. You can compare what different health insurance plans will cost and what they cover for you and your family. You don’t have to do anything if you already have a health insurance policy that meets the federal essential coverage requirements. Even so, you still might check the Marketplace to see if you are eligible for a policy at a lower cost.

Everyone should have insurance that covers the cost of health care for preventive care as well as health care for illness and injury.  Everyone should be able to get preventive care without a copayment or paying a yearly deductible. Preventive care can help you take good care of yourself, your family, and the children who are counting on you.

Some early childhood providers operate as small businesses. Small business employers can choose from a range of coverage options for their employees. The tool to use is the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP. Eligible employers may qualify for a tax credit worth up to 50 % of the employer’s premium contribution to a SHOP plan. In 2014, some small business employers will let employees choose from a number of plans. Others may offer their employees a plan the employer chose.

You can get information, apply and enroll in an individual or SHOP health care plan online. Some people find it easier to call and speak to a live person on the phone. For the online system, go to To talk with a live person by phone, call 1-800-318-2596. The phone option is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (For TTY, call 1-855-889-4325). A customer service representative can answer your questions and help you apply to enroll in a health insurance plan.

If you’d rather have face-to-face help instead of using the website or phone helpers, this service is available. The government has provided training and certification to people who can help you evaluate your alternatives. These helpers are known by different names, depending on who provides the service and where they’re located. For example, they may be called “navigators,” “application assisters,” or “certified application counselors.” To find face-to-face helpers, go to

The enrollment period for those who do not already have health insurance has been extended to March 1, 2014. Use the help the government is offering. Sign up for an insurance plan that suits your situation. Use the help being offered to understand and sign up for an insurance plan that meets your budget.

While some may pay more, most will pay less for health care by signing up in the Marketplace. Those who don’t have health insurance will have to pay a fine and risk paying full charges for health care. Going without health insurance is a gamble that can keep you from receiving the care you need. It can put you in deep debt from medical bills if you get sick or injured.