EDT October 9, 2013 Disability organizations and organizations for people with disease are getting the word out about how health insurance works. Americans with lung diseases, such as this patient going through a screening, can get help finding insurance that meets their needs from the American Lung Association. (Photo: Jim Cole, AP) Smokers may have to pay extra for their insurance Multiple sclerosis patients have special needs for insurance Planned Parenthood working on multiple avenues to help women with insurance SHARE 115 CONNECT 53 TWEET 1 COMMENTEMAILMORE WASHINGTON Advocates for a range of groups from young women to smokers to people with chronic diseases have created hotlines, webinars and pamphlets to help people understand their specific insurance needs as they start using state and federal exchanges to buy health coverage. “Disability organizations and organizations for people with disease are very much involved in getting out information and getting people enrolled,” said Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA, a health advocacy group. Many people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis, have not been able to get coverage in the past, and therefore need help understanding basic insurance terms as well as how to find an insurance plan that covers specialty medications or includes a medical specialist within a network, Pollack said. Beginning last week, uninsured Americans could begin signing up for insurance at H e althCare.gov because of the Affordable Care Act. The law prohibits insurance companies from charging people more or denying them coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, or setting lifetime spending limits. People who make less than 400% of the federal poverty level, or about $94,200 for a family of four, may be eligible for insurance subsidies to help pay for their insurance, or obtain free coverage through Medicaid. The help available ranges from getting the right plan for a woman’s birth control needs to making sure medication is covered for one of hundreds of kinds of blood cancers. LEUKEMIA AND LUNGS “There is a lot of attention right now about premiums, but not a lot for our cancer patients,” said Scott Riccio, senior vice president for patient access, education and advocacy at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “There are a lot of other costs to think about.” So, the organization has nine master’s level professionals manning a hotline, a Web chatline and a toll-free number 800-955-4572 with representatives speaking more than 100 languages.
More business news World financial leaders: U.S. stalemate needs urgent fix Howard Schneider The Group of 20 warns of economic risk if the impasse over the debt and budget isnt resolved quickly. Google to put user photos, comments in online ads Cecilia Kang The search engine says users can opt out, but the policy change has added to Web privacy concerns. More business news The reaction was somewhat better among supporters of the new health care law, but still middling: 19 percent said the rollout went extremely well or very well. Among the uninsured a key audience for the health exchanges 42 percent said they didnt know enough to judge how well the rollout had gone, suggesting an ongoing lack of awareness about the program in its early days. Despite the bumpy rollout, plenty of Americans are giving the system a try. Seven percent of Americans reported that somebody in their household has tried to sign up for insurance through the health care exchanges, according to the poll. While thats a small percentage, it could represent more than 20 million people.