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White House issues new tip sheet for Obamacare consumers

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is releasing a new tip sheet for Americans who have signed up for coverage under the president’s healthcare law and is urging consumers to be careful before they start using their new insurance Wednesday.

[Updated, 12:20 p.m. PST Dec. 31:  Since Oct. 1, approximately 2.1 million people have enrolled in a private health plan through new marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act, the administration announced Tuesday.

About an additional 4 million low-income Americans have qualified for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.]

Coverage is slated to start Jan. 1 for millions of Americans who don’t get health coverage through an employer and have selected a health plan through HealthCare.gov or similar state insurance marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act.

But the enrollment process that began Oct. 1 has been plagued by numerous problems, and medical providers and insurers are expecting significant confusion as Americans begin using their new insurance in January.

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Among the pieces of advice offered by the Obama administration:

  • Consumers should ensure they have an insurance card from their insurer.
  • Americans with new coverage should ensure they have paid their first premium and check whether the doctors and pharmacies they plan to use are in the provider’s network.
  • If consumers find that their medical provider can’t locate their records in the system, they should call their insurance company or the federal government’s marketplace call center at (800) 318-2596.

“For consumers whose marketplace coverage begins on Jan. 1, we're doing everything we can to help ensure a smooth transition period,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

The enrollment period for health plans offered on the new insurance marketplaces lasts until March 31.

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noam.levey@latimes.com

Twitter: @noamlevey

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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