Guest Blog: New Health Insurance Options and Protections for People Living with Diabetes

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Today’s guest blogger is LaShawn McIver, MD, MPH, the Managing Director of Public Policy and Strategic Alliances for the American Diabetes Association. 

November is American Diabetes Month®, and we’re honoring the lives of all people living with diabetes and taking time to reflect on the recent changes that have been put in place to protect and improve access to health insurance, making A Day in the Life of Diabetes a bit easier.

October 1, 2013 marked a monumental milestone for the nearly 26 million Americans living with diabetes. The Health Insurance Marketplaces (Marketplace) opened for business and opened the door of opportunity for individuals, families and small businesses, who previously did not have coverage, to buy health insurance in every state. In addition to those who previously were uninsured, almost anyone who currently buys health insurance on their own can buy it through a Marketplace. For people who meet certain income requirements, they may also qualify for financial assistance with their premiums and other costs for plans purchased within the Marketplace.

The Marketplaces will offer four different categories of plans, ranging from Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. In general, moving from Bronze to Platinum, out of pocket costs get lower while premiums tend to get higher. To help consumers understand these options, each state has trained helpers called “Navigators” that can assist consumers in making the best choice for them and their families. Enrollment assistance is available in-person, over the phone, and online. The new Marketplaces are just one of the benefits coming out of the Affordable Care Act that give people with diabetes more options and access to health insurance.

For years, people with diabetes have faced challenges securing affordable and quality health coverage. They have been branded by the health insurance industry as having a pre-existing condition, and have been forced to pay extremely high premiums, or flat out denied coverage because of their diabetes. January 1, 2014 will bring an end to this discrimination. Under the Affordable Care Act, no one with a pre-existing condition, including diabetes, can be denied coverage or charged more because of their disease. These changes are a step in the right direction to ensure people have access to the care they need to manage and treat this disease and its potentially devastating consequences.

The American Diabetes Association is committed to improving the lives of all people with diabetes, and keeping people up-to-date with educational resources on the Health Insurance Marketplaces and other Health Insurance Updates.

If you need health insurance, or have experienced any issues with enrollment, open enrollment lasts through March 31, 2014, and assistance is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-318-2596 or visiting healthcare.gov.

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