Health Care Advocates On ACA Enrollment: Start Early
People signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act have about a month left to do so before the open enrollment period ends on December 15, 2018, for coverage that begins January 1, 2019.
But health care advocates say it’s best not to wait until the last minute.
In choosing a plan, you’ll want to make sure that it will meet your needs, says Adani Sanchez, client services coordinator for Champaign County Health Care Consumers.
“You want to be an active participant, that’s what we try to tell people,” Sanchez said. “Some of the things that we do with clients: we check to make sure their doctors are in network, we check to make sure that all of their prescriptions are covered.”
It takes time to compare all the different plans, which may have changed since last year. So Sanchez says, it’s best to start early.
And even if a person signed up to auto-enroll in their current plan, Sanchez said it’s still a good idea for people to update their information.
That’s because prices and plans may have changed, there may be a new plan out there that’s a better fit, and people discover they’re eligible for additional financial assistance.
Champaign County Health Care Consumers offers free support for getting signed up for health insurance, including under the Affordable Care Act individual market.
In 2019, people who forgo health insurance will not be penalized, since Congress zeroed out the individual mandate penalty.
But those who are considering going without insurance should consider what they’d do if an emergency or unexpected illness arises, Sanchez said. The individual market offers bronze plans that comes with less coverage for a lower price than some of the other more comprehensive health plan options.
Average monthly premiums are set to drop slightly for the first time, following two years of big hikes.
Many people shopping the individual market may be eligible for federal subsidies.
Sanchez recommends exploring the Affordable Care Act website, www.Healthcare.gov, which allows people to enter information about themselves, see what plans are available, and get an estimate for how much financial assistance they may qualify for.
Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman