Don’t wait to apply for health care

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: February 26 2014 | 12:01 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 4:08 am in
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By Johnson County Health Care Outreach Coalition

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The Affordable Care Act offers many uninsured and underinsured Iowans the opportunity to obtain free or low-cost health insurance. While enrollment in Health and Wellness (Iowa’s Medicaid expansion) is open year-round, enrollment in Iowa’s Marketplace, where financial assistance is available for people with incomes less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, will end March 31.

But Iowans who wait until the end of March to enroll likely will not have time to complete the entire application process, which may require verification of identity documentation, such as a birth certificate.

As a result, they will not only be uninsured but also be required to pay the penalty for not having coverage.

Also, uninsured Iowans will miss the opportunity for valuable (and sometimes lifesaving) free preventive benefits required by the ACA, including cancer and heart disease screening.

It is strongly recommended that all enrollment applications be completed by March 15. People who miss the March 31 deadline will need to wait until next year’s open enrollment period to apply for coverage (with the exception of people who experience a “qualifying event, ” such as marriage).

Apply and enroll for health coverage now through the Health Insurance Marketplace, www.healthcare.gov.

The Johnson County Healthcare Outreach Coalition has developed a brochure with information about the law and consumer enrollment assistance access points. The brochure, as well as up-to-date information for area enrollment fairs, is posted at http://www.unitedwayjc.org/content/healthcare-enrollment-assistance.

The coalition will host an enrollment fair March 12, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Iowa City Public Library, where representatives from local health and social services agencies and insurance brokers will be available.

Please join us as we work to increase access to health care for Johnson County residents.

Johnson County Health Care Outreach Coalition:

Iowa City Free Medical and Dental Clinic,

Shelter House,

MECCA,

United Way of Johnson and Washington counties,

Johnson County Public Health,

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland,

AW Welt Ambrisco,

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics,

Mercy Hospital,

Community Mental Health Center,

Johnson County Social Services,

Visiting Nurses

Association,

Iowa City Community School District,

Iowa Valley Habitat

Comments: Direct to Johnson County Social Services Coordinator Lynette Jacoby, ljacoby@co.johnson.ia.us

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