HARRISBURG, Pa., Sept. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the Oct. 1 open enrollment date for the federal health insurance exchange approaches, the Pennsylvania Departments of Insurance and Public Welfare today reminded Pennsylvanians that there are several ways to access information about their health coverage options.
"On Oct. 1, open enrollment in the new federal health insurance exchange, or marketplace, will begin," explained Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine. "This is a six-month enrollment period and coverage will not be effective until Jan. 1, 2014 at the earliest. Consumers should be patient and take their time to understand their new options."
Last year, the Insurance Department created a stand-alone, consumer website for health insurance information.
The site, www.PAHealthOptions.com, includes information about current health insurance options as well as the new health exchange option.
It provides visitors with a link to the federal portal at www.Healthcare.gov to learn more and apply for coverage. The federal call center is also available 24/7 at 1-800-318-2596.
The federal health insurance exchange does not replace the current health insurance marketplace; it supplements it.
Individuals who have their own health coverage or employer-based plan are not required to do anything on the federal exchange to keep that coverage in place.
An individual whose current plan is changing or terminating may go to either website mentioned above or contact a health insurance company or producer to purchase insurance.
"People will have questions and concerns about how the law will affect them," Secretary of Public Welfare Beverly D Mackereth said. "We are focused on providing access to helpful information no matter where they choose to turn for their health coverage."
If low-income individuals do not have access to the Internet, they can call the newly activated Pennsylvania Consumer Service Center at 1-866-550-4355 to apply for Medicaid, or they can visit their local county assistance office.
Current Medicaid recipients will not be required to do anything during the enrollment period, but benefits and eligibility will be reviewed during their regularly scheduled redetermination period according to the new eligibility requirements of the Affordable Care Act.
The Affordable Care Act will not change eligibility or benefits for home and community-based waiver programs for individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Consumers can visit the Department of Public Welfare website at www.dpw.state.pa.us to determine whether or not they qualify for Medicaid. Information is also available on the site for healthcare providers seeking information about how the new law will affect them.
Media Contact: Rosanne Placey or Melissa Fox, Insurance, 717-787-3289
Carey Miller, Public Welfare, 717-425-7606
SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department; Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare