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A guide to getting health coverage

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He opted instead to continue to be covered by Cobra – the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. The decades-old law allows people to continue to have workplace health coverage for up to 18 months after quitting their job. But there’s a catch: you have to pay the employer’s share of the monthly premium plus your own. So it’s usually expensive, Mr Gilbert says in the video, admitting he was a “big dummy” for using it.

Earlier this year, when Mr. Gilbert’s Cobra coverage was about to expire, he reluctantly ventured into the insurance market and, after about a week of reading papers, chose a health care organization. The HMO saves him around $200 a month – but offers less flexibility in choosing doctors than his old plan, a Preferred Provider Organization or PPO

After that, he figured he had “a basic understanding of health insurance,” so why not produce a video to help others? (In the video, after discussing PPOs, HMOs and HDHPs — high-deductible health plans — Mr. Gilbert smiles slightly. “Every word of that sentence,” he says, “burnt out of my stuffy.”)

He expected to spend maybe a month making “a quick eight-minute video”. But, because it was health insurance, he kept learning exceptions and caveats that needed explaining, so the project took four months. Since he is not an expert, he said, he stuck to translating the terminology and sent a rough cut to supporters, some of whom have health insurance expertise, to more details and comments. (Mr. Gilbert said he collects payments from customers through crowdfunding site Patreon and ads that run with his YouTube videos. He said he is not paid by health insurers.)

Mr Gilbert said he was glad people watched the video, but stressed he was not an insurance guru. Based on his experience, however, he offered this advice: “Focus on the thing that’s most necessary to you and make sure the plan takes care of that really, really well.”

While the video is largely accurate in its descriptions, a segment about the unexpected bills patients sometimes receive for ER visits deserves an update (which Gilbert acknowledges in a YouTube comment). The No Surprises Act, a law that took effect in January, enacted new rules to protect consumers from surprise bills for out-of-network treatment in emergency rooms.

Here are some questions and answers about health insurance:

The HealthCare.gov deadline for coverage that begins January 1 is December 15. (You can register until January 15, but your coverage won’t begin until February.) Seventeen states and the District of Columbia run their own exchanges and may have different deadlines. If you miss a deadline, you may be eligible for a “special” registration period if you get married or lose your job. And some low-income people can sign up for market plans at any time. Consumers can get help choosing a plan by clicking “find local help” on HealthCare.gov.

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nytimes

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