A new era in American health care has arrived: a time when everyone can get affordable health insurance coverage, no matter what your health history. Your cancer diagnosis cannot prevent you from getting insurance and, in fact, you might even have options to think about that cost less.
The Affordable Care Act, sometimes called "Obamacare," takes full effect in 2014, as does an expansion of Michigan's Medicaid program.
Here's a summary of what these changes may mean for you:
- If you have health insurance through your job, or you're covered on someone else's plan such as a spouse or parent, you don't have to make any changes. However, if that coverage changes or goes away, you will be able to find affordable insurance coverage that will accept someone with a history of cancer -- or someone who is undergoing cancer treatment.
- If you have Medicare or Medicaid, you don't have to do anything different.
- If you buy insurance for yourself, your family or your small business, you may want to look at the new plans available under the Affordable Care Act, or see if you qualify for subsidies and tax credits to help pay for them.
- If you buy a COBRA plan from a previous employer, you can probably find a lower-cost plan on the individual marketplace, and you may be eligible for subsidies or expanded Medicaid..
- If you receive charity or discounted care through the U-M Health System's M-Support program, you must now apply to see if you are eligible for expanded Medicaid or for an affordable individual or family plan on the Marketplace. M-Support will now be limited to those who do not qualify for either.
- If you don't have health insurance, or any of your loved ones don't, the new plans and expanded Medicaid offer new options. You will need to have coverage soon in order to meet federal requirements and avoid a tax penalty.
Visit www.healthcare.gov to explore the individual Marketplace or the SHOP marketplace for small businesses.
Important note: Make sure that the specific plan you choose will allow you to receive care from your usual doctors, hospitals and other locations. Visit www.uofmhealth.org/ACAplans for the list of plans accepted at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center and other U-M Health System sites.
Call the U-M Health System's Patient Financial Counselors at 877-326-9155 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday-Friday, or email them at PFC-Counselors@med.umich.edu. This service is free and open to anyone, not just U-M patients.