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Sunday, Dec 21, 2014
Healthcare Exchange Q&A

I have insurance until Dec. 31. Can I apply on Marketplace now for 2014?

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Q: My situation: I’m 63, female and have no pre-existing health conditions. My employer advised me it is terminating my corporate health coverage effective at year-end. Can I begin searching via the Marketplace on Oct. 1 for replacement coverage, or must I wait until Jan. 1 and risk a possible gap in coverage? – Juanita from Spring Hill

A: Tuesday’s launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace is for people wanting to shop for 2014 coverage. So you can shop now, even apply for coverage at www.healthcare.gov and know that the new policy on the online exchange is effective on Jan. 1.

Your age and situation is a common one: Middle-aged adults who want health insurance are facing a lot of choices under the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that Americans get health coverage starting Jan. 1.

While employment-based coverage traditionally has covered more than half of the insured people in the 45 to 64 age group, some, like you, are learning that their employer is shifting gears and not offering insurance in 2014.

Groups that support the Affordable Care Act, such as the AARP, say the new online marketplace will provide more options to uninsured Americans, particularly for the 50- to 64-year-old population. They estimate 11 million of the 58 million adults in that demographic are uninsured and that a vast majority will be eligible to shop at www.healthcare.gov.

While you don’t have a chronic pre-existing health condition, many of your peers do, and they depend on insurance to keep overall health care costs down, the AARP says. As many as 20 percent of uninsured adults applying for individual insurance in the past have been denied coverage in the past because of a pre-existing condition.

The AARP reports that 30 percent of the people in this age group spend at least 10 percent of their disposable income on doctors, medications and treatments. Just 18 percent of the 19- to 49-year-old age group spent that much.

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