After signing up more than 100 people during that three week stretch I wanted to put together a list that features the most important things you need to know that aren't common knowledge.
1. Get it Paid
Since healthcare.gov has yet to build the backend system that would allow you to directly pay for your new affordable health insurance online, you might have to jump through a few hoops make sure your new insurance company gets the payment on time.
If the insurance company you signed up with doesn't have your money in hand by your policy's due date then it will cancel or not go into effect.
If you signed up on or before December 24, you have until January 10 to get the first payment in.
For every month moving forward you should have until the day before your policies effective date to pay.
NOTE:I would recommend using some type of electronic payment for the initial transaction to avoid dealing with the mailing and processing of a hard copy check.
2. Delayed Information
With this overload of activity the last 4-5 weeks insurance companies particularly Medical Mutual are trying their best to keep up with the demand. However, implementing this new system and doing it in a severely shortened 3 week period for those who signed up for January 1 coverage has slowed down the confirmation/communication process between you and the insurance company.
It takes several days if not a week or so for your policy to show up in their system if you applied on healthcare.gov and a few more days for them to acknowledge they got it.
Don't worry, this is normal (for now) and you are just going to have to be a little patient.
3. Making a Change
If you need to make a change to your healthcare.gov policy, maybe one of your children (dependents) needs to be taken off and put on another parents health insurance or perhaps you over or underestimated your income for 2014 and need to make a correction to receive the proper subsidy?
Get ready for this, you can't.
Well, you can you just have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and remove the entire application.
Yep, that's what I've been told by healthcare.gov representatives.
You might be thinking, "can't my new insurance company make the change?"
You would be right, if we were operating in a normal, rational environment.
However, as of right now they are holding firm on the statement all changes to applications submited through healthcare.gov need to come through healthcare.gov.
Is your head hurting yet?
The problem with this is that if you remove your application you submitted before the December 24 deadline, you will forfeit your new policy that took effect January 1 and depending when you "reapply" you could be without coverage for 30-45 days.
Don't throw too many large objects around your house.
I would sit tight on this process for as long as you can to see if the healthcare.gov system is updated to allow such activity.
Let's get serious, that process is certifiably crazy from an insurance standpoint. I'm talking, lock yourself up in a padded room and misplace the key for a while crazy.
4. Your Choice Is Only For a Year
If buyers remorse is starting to settle in and you're unsure if you made the right decision, don't worry you're only tied to your current plan selection for one year.
If your plan doesn't appear on my best of marketplace plans in Ohio list, you'll have the opportunity to change it next October when the second open enrollment period starts.
Also, between now and the end of March, I've been told that you have the opportunity to change plans as well. However, after just reading number three on this list you might see why my confidence in that statement is shaken at best.
No matter what, you will want make sure you reevaluate your decision every year and make sure a better option hasn't presented itself.
5. Get Help
If your new health insurance policy is proving to be too much to handle on your own and problems or questions like these are wasting too much of your life?
You can easily fix that by adding an insurance professional, like an agent or broker, to your team anytime and for no extra cost simply by completing an agent of record letter.
I have a feeling, with the governments keen law changing ability, this process will continue to be one of the biggest moving targets we've seen.
Having someone to off load that stress to might be a good idea.
The Bottom Line
Getting through healthcare.gov's application process was only the first hurdle. The limitations, restrictions and quirks of this new system will now start coming out of the woodwork as we put it to the test.
While most of these items on the list are dangerously annoying, the absolute most important thing to remember is to pay for new policy after completing the application. If not then you won't have coverage.