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Still uninsured? Beware Obamacare's narrow network

Do your homework and take note of the limited number of health care providers and networks offered through the exchanges.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 21, 2014 12:33PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyStill don't have health insurance? Time is running out. The deadline to sign up for health insurance is just days away.

If you're still searching for coverage, take heed of the following:

Pills wrapped in a $100 bill © SuperStockLimited network

Many health insurance plans sold on the Obamacare exchanges swap lower premiums for a narrow provider network. Be aware of this when you're signing up for coverage, because going out-of-network could come at a cost, Kaiser Health News says.

These may include: separate out-of-pocket maximum costs for out-of-network services, potential charges for preventive care services that are free under your network plan, and higher co-payments.

Deadline and penalties

You have until March 31 to enroll and pay for a plan or face a potential penalty of $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is higher. The penalty will be assessed on next year's tax return. The penalty for uninsured children, under age 18, is $47.50, with a maximum penalty of $285 per family.

The only way you can sign up for individual health insurance after March 31 is if you have a qualifying life event, like moving out of state, changing jobs or having a baby.

Off-exchange plans

Only those who use the online government marketplaces to buy insurance are eligible for a subsidy, in the form of a tax credit, to help them afford the premiums. But if you make too much money to qualify for a subsidy, you might want to consider purchasing a health insurance plan from a certified insurance website or use a certified insurance broker to help find a custom plan for you.

This leaves you with greater flexibility in choosing your health insurance and the possibility of a broader provider network. But you still need to enroll by March 31.

Changes are slated for Obamacare in 2015. The Obama administration is ordering the insurance marketplaces to "include a more robust offering of care providers in 2015," The Washington Post said.

Health plans offered on the government marketplaces next year will be required to include 30 percent of area "essential community providers," like health centers and hospitals that serve mainly low-income patients. The 2014 requirement was 20 percent.

Are you uninsured and still looking for a health insurance policy? Share your experiences in the comments below.

More on Money Talks News:

Mar 21, 2014 5:02PM
Is anyone surprised? The entire concept of the PPACA (better known and more correctly known as Obamacare) was based upon a series of lies. Each lie is falling by the way side like individual leaves from a tree. Remember who pushed this pile of lies upon us and vote accordingly.

Opponents told us that Obamacare would protect against illegal aliens getting insured with subsidies - lie; would not make those who oppose abortions to pay for abortions - lie; would not force us to change insurance if we had a policy we liked - lie; would not force us to change medical providers - lie. One after another, all of the selling points turn out to be lies. Why is this illegal law still on the books.

The government should just leave the healthcare system alone. Learn from the auto insurance industry. It's a private marketplace with lots of competition (meaning low rates for consumers). I can go find auto insurance for less than $30 on the internet within a few minutes on a site like Insurance Panda. With the government healthcare site, the rates keeep going up. I mean, what's stopping them?

Which is in part why I think Americans will riot... Then there is limited doctors and hospitals, poor quality healthcare, long waits, and increased costs...

Mar 21, 2014 1:23PM
Our own guberment is now acting like any other fly by night hustler.  Just tell em something to get them signed up and we will worry about the details later.  This is how third world countries operate and now we are them.  Just five short years and we will never be able to have the citizens ever respect anything about this country.
Texans are free of this Obama Health Care penalty as Rick Perry refused to sign up on it.

Mar 21, 2014 3:08PM
Whoa!!!! Wait a minute...!!! Obamacare was touted by Obama AND his a**-kissing media as THE ultimate healthcare plan that was going to save the health-care industry while supplying a multitude of providers and coverage to care for the currently uninsured, as well as alleviate soaring medical costs and save people hundreds and hundreds in future medical costs. So WHY the sudden admission of ineptness??? Becoming too difficult to hide the bulls**t?????
Mar 21, 2014 1:36PM

It is ignorance to said that Texans are free of the penalty just because Rick Perry didn't signed.

The only thing that Texans don't get is extended Medicaid, but the penalty is still there.


'next time up',   "guberment'!!!   You need to go to school.

Mar 22, 2014 10:38PM
Not just narrow, but very very very narrow. some people are 25 miles from their provider.
Mar 21, 2014 1:03PM

The article does not state what happens when you don't make enough money.  According to the ACA, if you are a Texas resident with two children, you have to make more than $41K before they will offer you the choice of a policy.  Otherwise you are stuck with Medicaid.  For the person I know, Medicaid is not a viable option due to available facilities.  They are willing to pay for quality care, but have found that ACA prevents that. 


Check on the private market, they direct you to the healthcare exchange if you are unemployed.

Mar 23, 2014 12:00PM
Does this mean my families promised $2500.00 annual savings on my health insurance won't happen?
Mar 23, 2014 9:46AM
B Obama is really Kevin Trudeau. 
Mar 21, 2014 1:40PM

If you don`t like Obamacare don`t sign up for it.Just pay higher rates and make the drug

companies richer.

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