Website confusion and late signups for individual health insurance under the Affordable Care Act may mean some people aren't certain whether their claims will be covered starting Wednesday.
In general, people are covered if they have received mailed material confirming they are insured. Otherwise, it's a good idea to check.
Four companies offer insurance policies in Nebraska that comply with the Affordable Care Act: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska, CoOportunity Health, Coventry Health and Health Alliance Midwest. CoOportunity and Coventry also offer the policies in Iowa.
People can buy coverage directly from the companies or through the federal marketplace, HealthCare.gov, which then passes applications on to the insurance companies that customers choose.
Once coverage is official, insurance companies send mailings to customers such as identification cards from CoOportunity or premium bills from Blue Cross.
“If I didn't have my card by Monday or Tuesday, I would check,” said Cliff Gold, president of CoOportunity Health.
If you haven't received a mailing to verify coverage, it's possible that the insurance company didn't get your enrollment from the federal marketplace, said Tom Gilsdorf, director of product development for Blue Cross.
Blue Cross will try to help, he said, but some corrections can be made only by the marketplace so coverage can begin. “We want consumers to be fully enrolled as soon as possible,” Gilsdorf said.
The insurance companies' customer service numbers:
Blue Cross, 877-693-7091.
Health Alliance Midwest, 877-917-8780.
Operators can check whether applications have been processed and coverage is in place. If a policy application has not been forwarded from HealthCare.gov, call the federal website's customer line, 800-381-2596.
Dec. 24 was the deadline to apply for the policies that will start coverage Jan. 1. The government delayed the original Dec. 15 deadline because of problems with its website.
Gold, from CoOportunity, said a few weeks ago that some people weren't notified quickly that they were covered, but that has improved. In recent weeks, applications have been “very clean and very timely,” he said, except for an occasional duplicated name.
Hospitals, doctor's offices, pharmacies and other health care providers should know how to check on coverage if people come for service without insurance cards.
Insurance companies have extended the deadline for paying the first premium until Jan. 10 or 14, depending on the company.
Blue Cross officials noted that if the payment isn't received by the insurance company by the deadline, the law requires canceling coverage the next day.
People without insurance have until March 31 to sign up for coverage and avoid a tax penalty to be levied under the law.
The deadlines do not apply to people who are extending their 2013 policies into 2014 or to people with group insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Tri-care or other government-sponsored plans.