Don’t Miss Open Enrollment for Affordable Healthcare

by Jackie Cohen on November 3, 2017 · 0 comments

Open enrollment for Obamacare is underway.

Despite confusion about whether Obamacare insurance legislation was still in effect or whether it would be advertised, open enrollment for health insurance has begun.

Don’t fret if you were among the confused. Several times over the past year, Republicans in Congress tried to overturn the Affordable Healthcare Act, but to no avail.

However, supposedly minor tweaks to existing legislation can make out-of-pocket medical costs seem rather unaffordable for those with low incomes.

No Open Enrollment PR

Additionally, President Trump signed an executive order that cut off funding for public outreach about Obamacare — you might have seen something to that effect on social media by now.

What might have gotten lost in those repostings is the basic premise: Americans must have health insurance or pay a penalty.

The good news is that this penalty remains unchanged from the 2016 tax year: 2.5% of annual household income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 — all of it due when you file your federal income taxes.

Shortest Yet

Open enrollment for Obamacare began November 1 and lasts until December 15. This year’s open enrollment period is shorter than in previous years.

However, some individual states might have set their own deadlines that are more generous, which you can find out about on your own state’s Department of Health website.

Note that you can still buy health insurance at other times during the year like when you lose your job, relocate or get married.

Additionally, people whose incomes are low enough to qualify for Medicaid can enroll anytime, although those already in this entitlement program receive letters around this time period that either offers an automatic renewal or request new applications to the plans.

Not Your Employer’s Plans

The Obamacare open enrollment period is independent of any open enrollment that employers might offer to employees for signing up for insurance.
Obamacare open enrollment intends to allow people who don’t have insurance coverage through an employer, Medicare or Medicaid to sign up for private individual coverage plans through Healthcare.gov.
Additionally, some states manage their own online marketplaces, but you can find them through links on the federal Healthcare.gov site.

 

Premiums Up, Deductibles Down

Interestingly, premiums are rising but so are tax credits and in many cases deductibles are going down.

For those with lower incomes, some plans’ overall costs might be going down — federal subsidies for taxpayers have gone up, at the expense of subsidies previously given to insurers.

Unfortunately, some of the people who qualify for these subsidies might not know about it, let alone come claim it: Scaled back outreach about open enrollment could result in 1.6 million fewer people signing up for individual health insurance plans compared to the previous year, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Shop Carefully

However, if your income exceeds the threshold to qualify for subsidies, you might have higher premiums, albeit with the possibility of lower deductibles that might or might not offset the higher premiums.

All of these changes together mean that you need to pay more attention to details during this year’s enrollment period than last year’s — comparison shop more carefully.

Take your time with the comparison shopping, since the coverage you sign up for during this open enrollment usually commences at the start of 2018.

Readers, are you planning to buy health insurance during open enrollment?

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