Obamacare, ACA, insurance exchange, marketplace—whatever you call it, the time to enroll is right now!
Here are some tips and resources:
Don’t wait until the last minute, because the last minute is coming sooner than you think.
The enrollment period for the federal marketplace, Healthcare.gov, as well as multiple state marketplaces, is only six weeks—that’s half the time people had to enroll last year. Websites will slow down as more people try to enroll.
Open enrollment periods for the marketplaces are as follows:
Healthcare.gov (federal): Nov. 1 – Dec. 15
California: Nov. 1 – Jan. 31
Connecticut: Nov. 1 – Jan. 12
Colorado: Nov. 1 – Dec. 22
Washington, DC: Nov. 1 – Jan. 31
Idaho: Nov. 1 – Dec. 15
Maryland: Nov. 1 – Dec. 15
Massachusetts: Nov. 1 – Jan. 23
Minnesota: Nov. 1 – Jan. 14
New York: Nov. 1 – Jan. 31
Rhode Island: Nov. 1 – Dec. 31
Vermont: Nov. 1 – Dec. 15
Washington: Nov. 1 – Jan. 15
(Source: Kaiser Family Foundation)
Visit your marketplace as soon as possible to begin researching your options and to ensure that you know what you need to do to enroll. This page on Healthcare.gov provides links to all the state marketplace websites: https://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace-in-your-state/
If you don’t see your state on the list, it means you must enroll through Healthcare.gov.
Enrollment help is available.
Although the federal budget for enrollment assistance was drastically reduced, in many states there are still trained patient navigators ready to help you.
If you are enrolling through Healthcare.gov, go to this link to find an assistor near you: https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/#/
If you are enrolling through a state marketplace, check your state’s website for information on enrollment assistance.
Whether you are using healthcare.gov or a state marketplace, most community health centers also offer enrollment assistance or can refer you to someone who can help. To find a community health center, go to https://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov
If you or someone you know needs help understanding the basics of health insurance, commonly used terms, or how to choose a plan, the advocacy group Families USA has a number of resources available on their website in both English and Spanish. You can find them here: http://familiesusa.org/health-insurance-basics-english-and-spanish
Subsidies and tax credits are still available.
You might have heard that the President eliminated subsidies to help people pay for insurance. This is not the case. In the past, about 8 out of 10 people who bought their insurance through the marketplace qualified for some kind of help, either in the form of a tax credit to help offset their premium costs or through reduced patient cost sharing, which provides for lower deductibles or copays. (You can learn more about reduced patient cost sharing, as well as get additional information on what’s happening with the ACA, in a previous post of mine: Confused About What’s Going on with Obamacare? Here Are Some Answers (posted October 19).
Spread the word!
The budget for outreach and advertising related to enrollment was drastically cut this year, so word of mouth will be key to making sure everyone who needs to purchase insurance has the opportunity to do so. Share this post with your network and visit getamericacovered.org for more information on how you can help!
Do you have more information on open enrollment or know about a resource that’s not listed here? What about tips from your own enrollment experience? Share in the comments below!