The ACA Is Not Dead. Here Are the Enrollment Facts You Need to Know.

By Jose Jimenez

October 20, 2017

There seems to be breaking news everyday on how the ACA is now “dead” but don’t let that confuse you! The enrollment period is STILL coming up this November 1st and many of our friends and family may not even know. Here are the basics you need to know:

Q: Is the ACA still law? Should I still sign-up for insurance coverage?

A: In short, Yes. The ACA is still law and active in the United States. Congress has not repealed the ACA or passed any new healthcare law replacements. While pieces of the law have been undermined such as budget cuts to marketing, staffing “navigators” of exchanges, and maybe subsidy payments, individuals who fail to enroll in insurance and lack coverage for the upcoming year may still face a minimum tax penalty of $695.

Q: When can I sign up for health insurance?

A: General open enrollment runs from  November 1st – December 15th 2017, but certain states have extended deadlines. The enrollment period is much shorter than before and considering the cuts to market “navigators”, it is best to sign up sooner than later!

           State Starts Ends

California

Nov. 1 Jan. 31

Colorado

Nov. 1 Jan. 12

Connecticut

Nov. 1 Dec. 22

Massachusetts

Nov. 1 Jan. 23

Minnesota

Nov. 1 Jan. 14

New York

Nov. 1 Jan. 31

Rhode Island

Nov. 1 Dec. 31

Washington State

Nov. 1 Jan. 15

Washington, D.C.

Nov. 1 Jan. 31

 

Q: Where should I sign up for health insurance?

A: If you don’t already receive insurance from your employer, individuals can sign up for insurance coverage online or find more information about the Affordable Care Act at https://www.healthcare.gov/

But if you’re from one of the following states, you need to access your state-run online marketplace instead:

 

Q: Are there any places nearby where I live that I can sign-up in person for insurance?

A: Individuals can search for local, in-person help about enrollment or questions regarding the ACA by calling 1-800-318-2596 or visiting https://localhelp.healthcare.gov.

 

Q: Will the online federal exchange website be available 24/7 for enrollment once the open enrollment period begins?

A: The federal health insurance exchange will be shut down for 12 hours during all but one Sunday during the open enrollment period, hindering the process of online enrollment for the majority of states who use the federal exchange website.  If you are eligible, sign up as soon as possible.  If the website is down, see if there is a place close to you where you might sign up in person at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov.

 

Q: Will premium subsidies still be made available if I buy health insurance through the marketplace? How will insurance costs be affected?

A: Yes, if you still qualify for a federal subsidy you will still be able to obtain it under the law of the ACA.  8 in 10 are eligible for health plans for $75/month and under!  Recent news has highlighted the Trump administration’s plans to stop paying federal subsidies to health insurance companies (Not to be confused with subsidies to individuals). However, withdrawing the money available to insurance companies will result in companies having to raise premiums for it’s consumers in order to deal with less funds from the federal government. Even if you already have a plan, you should sign up and shop around if you can.

 

Q: Was money for marketing ACA affected any way this year?

A: Money for ACA advertising was cut by 90% this year, from $100 million to $10 million, drastically minimizing outreach and promotion during this open enrollment period. A recent survey showed 6 in 10 Americans don’t know or are confused about the enrollment process, help spread the word to your friends and family!

 

Q: Have been there been any more cuts in funding for different areas of the ACA?

A: ACA Navigators, those who help customers enroll into insurance, had their budget cut by $30 million this year, limiting the people and resources available to assist and enroll customers into a health insurance plan.  Please share this website widely.  Even though the Federal government is scaling back advertising, we can do our part by sharing widely.

 

Q: Has birth control access or coverage been recently changed in the ACA?

A: The ACA mandate of requiring employers to offer insurance coverage of birth control to its employees without co-pays or deductibles has been set back, giving employers the option to not cover these services.  Contact your employer-based coverage provider to check if this has affected your plan.