Unlike last year’s open enrollment period when consumers had 90 days to enroll for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace, consumers this year have only 45 days, November 1 to December 15, 2017, to sign up to gain or renew insurance coverage and avoid a penalty at tax time.
The Affordable Care Act is still law and the IRS has confirmed that it will enforce the insurance mandate despite an Executive Order by President Trump giving the agency discretion not to do so. That means that consumers who choose not to buy health insurance for 2018 will pay a fee called the individual shared responsibility payment. The fee is calculated two different ways and the higher of the two used: Those without insurance will pay either 2.5% of household income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18. The fee will be calculated when consumers file their federal tax returns for the year in which they didn’t have coverage, unless the consumer qualified for an exemption from the requirement to have insurance.
For 2018, Marketplace consumers can save significant amounts on their premiums by actively shopping. There are five insurers in Pennsylvania offering Marketplace plans: Capital Blue Cross, Geisinger Health Plan, Highmark, Independence Blue Cross and UPMC. While some networks have narrowed, many are offering enhanced benefits such as wellness programs and telehealth services to counteract increases in deductibles and out of pocket maximums. All consumers re-enrolling in coverage are encouraged to review and update their income and demographic information on their Marketplace application.
Healthcare.gov, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ official Health Insurance Marketplace website, has planned maintenance outages during the enrollment period. The first outage will take place overnight Wednesday, November 1 and other outages are planned for every Sunday between 12:00 am and 12:00 pm except Sunday, December 10.
The Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers (PACHC) and its statewide membership of community-based healthcare organizations provide free, personal, no pressure, no obligation, non-biased enrollment assistance to individuals seeking the security of health insurance coverage. Federally certified health center-based enrollment assisters—certified application counselors and navigators—are trained and ready to help individuals navigate the enrollment process, including evaluation of plan options and cost.
Individuals seeking primary care or information on enrollment assistance can locate a local community health center using the Find a Health Center link on the PACHC website at http://www.pachc.org/PA-Health-Centers/Find-a-Health-Center or by calling the PACHC toll-free hotline, 1-866-944-CARE (1-866-944-2273).
SOURCE: submitted news release
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