Covering All Americans

A heart attack or stroke can cost as much as $100,000, among the many reasons why it’s so important to have health insurance.

A heart attack or stroke can cost as much as $100,000, among the many reasons why it’s so important to have health insurance.

Under the health care law, America has an unprecedented opportunity to expand insurance coverage to millions, helping protect them financially and enabling them to get the preventive care they need to avoid serious illnesses. Among those eligible for coverage are more than 7 million people with a history of heart disease or stroke who are currently uninsured.

Health Insurance Marketplaces opened in every state plus the District of Columbia in October. These Marketplaces provide a single location in each state where individuals and small businesses can shop for private health insurance that fits their budgets. For the first time in our nation’s history, people will not be turned down or charged higher premiums for pre-existing medical conditions. Financial assistance will be available to help make premiums affordable for people who don’t get health insurance through their workplace.


The Marketplaces — sometimes referred to as exchanges — provide a new, easier way to shop for and buy health insurance. Through the Marketplaces, you can choose a private health plan that best meets your family’s needs and budget. You can see all of your choices in one place, determine your premium, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs up front and compare health insurance plans before you decide to enroll. Depending on where you live, your Marketplace could be run by your state or by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You’re eligible to buy coverage through the Marketplaces if you’re a U.S. citizen or lawfully residing in this country and are not incarcerated. Small employers with 50 or fewer full-time workers can use the Marketplaces to shop for coverage for their employees.

If you already have health insurance through your employer, as most Americans do, you’ll still be eligible for coverage under your employer’s plan and won’t need to use the Marketplace. Your coverage also will continue if you’re covered through a public program like Medicare, Medicaid or another government plan.


As of Jan. 1, everyone will be required to have some type of health insurance coverage, unless no affordable insurance is available. Individuals have until March 31, 2014, to obtain coverage and still be in compliance with the requirement.

Those who can afford coverage but don’t obtain it will be subject to a tax penalty. In 2014, this penalty will be $95 per adult or 1 percent of your taxable income, whichever is greater.





The new Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit will help make the premiums affordable to qualified individuals and families buying health insurance coverage through the Marketplaces. The amount of the tax credit will depend on income and family size. Those with the lowest incomes may be eligible for a health plan with no premium.

Qualified individuals can choose how they receive their tax credit. They can take it right away and pay a lower monthly premium, take it at the end of the year by subtracting it from the taxes they owe or use it to get a bigger refund.


Every health insurance plan sold through the Marketplaces is required to offer ten categories of Essential Health Benefits, covering services important to heart disease and stroke patients. They include hospital care, doctor’s office visits, emergency services, prescription drugs, lab tests, rehabilitative care, and preventive screenings and services. The services covered are intended to be similar to the benefits provided by a typical employer plan.


There are a variety of ways to shop, apply for and enroll in health coverage: online through the Marketplace website (, in person, by mail, or by phone (1-800-318-2596).

Every Marketplace is required to have available trained, certified counselors called Navigators. Navigators are not insurance agents, but people who can help you understand and complete the application and explain the different insurance options. In addition, licensed insurance agents and brokers can help you apply and enroll.

A three-page application will allow individuals to find out whether they qualify for the premium tax credit or for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The Marketplace website and application are available in Spanish. The toll-free number can also help people in Spanish and up to 150 other languages.

Some consumers using the website to shop and apply for coverage have experienced difficulties. Although changes are being made to improve the website, remember that you can also apply by phone or in-person through Navigators and insurance agents.


The initial open enrollment period for the new Marketplaces is Oct. 1-March 31. For people who sign up after Jan. 1, coverage starts the first day of the month after they enroll, if they enroll before the 15th of the month. If they enroll after the 15th, coverage starts the first day of the second following month.

Once the initial open enrollment period ends, people who are uninsured have to wait until the next open enrollment period to sign up for coverage. However, you may be eligible to enroll outside the open enrollment period in special circumstances, including losing your health insurance coverage, getting married or moving. If you have or adopt a child, that child is immediately eligible to be signed up for coverage.

Finally, individuals who qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program can apply and be enrolled at any time throughout the year.


Starting Jan. 1, individuals with pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be turned down for coverage or charged a higher premium because of their health status. Also, for most health plans, not just plans sold through the Marketplaces, annual dollar limits on coverage are no longer permitted. Most health plans will now be required to cover the routine costs associated with participating in clinical trials for patients with life-threatening conditions.



If someone comes to your home, calls you out of the blue or sends e-mails offering health insurance coverage at a terrific price, how will you know whether the offer is legitimate?

Remember this simple formula: STOP, CALL, CONFIRM.

STOP Ask for identification and a phone number where the person may be reached later. If the person refuses to give this information for any reason, or tries to pressure you into signing any document, you should immediately hang up, close the door or walk away.

Do NOT volunteer your Social Security number or a credit/debit card number to anyone offering insurance unless you personally know them. Likewise, do NOT sign any paperwork or write a check.

CALL Contact your state department of insurance or your state Marketplace. The insurance company or agent or broker, as well as the Navigator, must be registered or licensed in your state before they can sell coverage or counsel consumers through your state’s Marketplace.

CONFIRM Before giving personal information or signing any documents, confirm the authorization status of any insurance company, agent or broker, or Navigator trying to provide assistance.

From National Association of Insurance Commissioners website

Stroke Connection. Get the app for free.


- Advertisement -

This link is provided for convenience only and is not an endorsement or recommendation of either the linked-to entity or any product or service.

AD. Amramp Making Life Accessible. 20 years. Be accessible to everyone. Protect your clients & their caregivers from slip and fall accidents. 888-715-7599. Click here for more info.

AD: American Stroke Association-American Heart Association logo. Did you know that about 1 in 4 stroke survivors have a second stroke? Learn more.


Ad: American Heart Association logo. American Diabetes Associaiton logo. Know diabetes by heart logo. Living with diabetes? Inspire others. Submit story button.


AD. American Heart Association logo. Know your blood pressure numbers. And what they mean. Gain Control.  Learn more.


Ad: American Heart Association Support Network. Facing recovery after a stroke or heart disease diagnosis can be overwhelming. You are not alone. Our community is here for you. Join us today.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Helping Others Understand

Stroke affects people differently and many of the effects of stroke can be complicated. Helping friends and family understand how a stroke is affecting a survivor can help everyone involved.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!