(WAFB) - January 31 is the day when Americans should have signed up for health insurance, either with the federal and state governments help, or through a private insurer.
For people who are sure they can't afford insurance on the broader commercial market, there is an intense effort to offer affordable insurance. However, you must sign up to get it.
Since 2013, the website has been HealthCare.gov. There were problems early on with the smooth operation of that website, maybe you were frustrated by it. But it is operating on all pistons now, and there is also a change to talk with a human being.
The toll-free hotline, 1-800-318-2596, offers you trained enrollment specialists who are manning it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whenever you call, they'll be there.
9News offered a brief local version of that Wednesday, January 13 at WAFB. People called our local news department hotline and got expert help and advice from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. during our local and CBS newscasts.
When the phones were ringing, the specialists said there are even new ways to make signing up for healthcare coverage easier.
For one thing, you may now apply on your cell phone. Talk about convenient!
Secondly, there is now an out-of-pocket cost estimator to help you estimate your total costs for the year including premiums, deductibles and co-pays. You can know that ahead of time to help you choose your policy.
And there are features to look up doctors and prescription drugs too. That means you can search and find if your existing doctors and prescriptions may be covered with the plan you're examining. Before you sign up, you'll know.
So call the hotline (1-800-318-2596) and get it right. There is also a localized section of the website: LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov.