March is the month of 2020 coverage for many of you who enrolled in the Affordable Care Act back in 2019. It is so important that you make sure you take time to understand and navigate your coverage. Having an insurance card and understanding how to get the care you need are two different things.
Understand What it Means to Have Coverage BEFORE You Need It
We often hear Black women talking about having “good” coverage that comes from their employers. But all health insurance, no matter where you get it, is not created equal. If you have health insurance that you got through the Marketplace, read the paperwork you got that explains what your coverage covers. Make sure you understand what you have. Does your coverage include blood tests, preventative services, mental health services? Do you know you what your co-pays are for your medications and if your insurance covers the medication you are on? How much will your prescription medications cost you? Also understand all the things your policy offers. Don’t assume that your plan does or doesn’t cover what you need.
Connect to Your Doctors Now
One of the first things you want to do is select a doctor or medical provider who accepts your insurance. At BWHI we know that some of the keys to health for Black women are tied to having a relationship with a medical home. Your medical home is the hub where you see your primary care physician. Make sure you check in BEFORE you need to be seen. It may be difficult for you to get a timely appointment if you are not a patient.
And if you haven’t had coverage, you may have been relying on the hospital’s emergency room for your care. But having a provider and a medical home is a much better option.
You Can’t be Turned Away Because of an Existing Condition
Even if you don’t get your coverage directly through the ACA, you cannot be dropped by your provider because of a pre-existing condition. Thanks to the ACA, your employer or your insurer cannot deny health coverage because of a pre-existing condition. For many years before ACA took effect you could see your coverage cancelled because of type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure, or even cancer, heart disease or even pregnancy. Many women fall into debt that they cannot overcome because of medical bills due to pre-existing conditions.
Pay Your Premiums on Time
While having care is so much better than going it alone, you probably have monthly premiums for your coverage. The amount you pay is based on what plan you signed up for and your financial circumstances. Signing up got you coverage but consistency is what keeps you in care. Each month pay your premium and pay it on time. Your coverage can be cancelled if you fall behind on your premiums.