October 1st is the day many uninsured Americans have been waiting for. That’s enrollment day for the Affordable Care Act, or what many refer to as “Obamacare”, the law that makes preventive care more accessible and affordable for some Americans. Many people still have no idea about the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act, but Planned Parenthood has a cheat sheet for those still unsure about the rules and guidelines:
1. If you’re uninsured, you may be able to get new insurance starting October 1.Almost everyone will have to get health insurance under the new health care reform law. The law says you must have health insurance by 2014 or you’ll have to pay a fine. But there’s good news: Starting October 1, new, more affordable, quality health insurance plans will be available for you to enroll in. And if you make less than $45,960 per year, you may be eligible to get financial help to enroll in a new insurance plan. Here’s how find out more about whether you’re eligible and how to enroll; you can also learn more about what the new health care law means for women.
2. If you already have insurance, your benefits will expand (and they may already be expanding!).
Under the law, insurance companies can no longer charge women more for the same coverage men get, and they also can’t refuse to cover “preexisting conditions,” like breast cancer or having had a cesarean section. Some women are already getting expanded benefits, depending on how their insurance plan is structured; for most plans, these benefits kick in at the start of the new “plan year,” which varies. If you’re insured, ask the benefits administrator at your workplace or call the number on the back of your insurance card to find out when it kicks in for you.
3. You will be able to get prescription birth control for free, without a co-pay.
The law requires that insurance companies cover all of the FDA-approved birth control methods without a co-pay, including pills, rings, implants, and IUDs. While every method has to be covered, not every brand has to be covered with no co-pay—some plans may only cover certain brands of pills, for example, so you’ll have to ask the insurance company if your brand is covered without a co-pay. The birth control benefit applies to people who currently have insurance (once their new plan year kicks in) and people who get new insurance.
4. You’ll be able to get annual exams, prescriptions, and other services for free, without a co-pay.
Insurance plans will have to cover doctor visits, annual well-woman exams, hospitalizations, maternity care, prescription medications, ER care, and more, all without a co-pay.
5. If you’re getting new insurance, you can “interview” insurance plans to find out which one is best for you.
The range of services that insurance plans offer will vary—for example, they have to cover maternity services, but the exact services covered might be different from plan to plan. Also, you’ll want to make sure your current health care provider is covered by the plan—your a specific doctor, or a health center like Planned Parenthood. When you’re enrolling in new health insurance, you’’ll get a list of plans that are available. You should contact each of them to find out more about what they cover and which providers are included. (Here’s an interview guide so you’ll know exactly what to ask.)