ACA Healthcare Enrollment Begins Today

Passing healthcare reform was an historic achievement that changed the lives of families across the country, many of whom never had access to affordable care. This law lets families purchase health coverage that fits their needs and budget while providing key protections to many who didn’t have them before, including people who suffered from pre-existing conditions, to a young college graduate still looking for work.

Congress has tried repeatedly to repeal the law but, as of now, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still the law of the land. That means consumers can still benefit from these important protections, but the uninsured must act quickly—open enrollment is only open from November 1 to December 15.

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Open Enrollment on Healthcare.gov—which is used by most states—allows consumers to look for plans, shop side-by-side and purchase a plan for coverage starting on January 1, 2018. On Healthcare.gov, open enrollment runs from November 1 to December 15, but some state-based marketplaces have different deadlines. Below find all of the state-based marketplaces, and their deadlines:

State

State-based marketplace Deadline for 2018 coverage

California

Covered California

January 31, 2018

Colorado

Connect for Health Colorado

January 12, 2018

Connecticut

Access Health CT

December 22, 2017

District of Columbia

DC Health Link

January 31, 2018

Idaho

Your Health Idaho

December 15, 2017

Maryland

Maryland Health Connection

December 15, 2017

Massachusetts

Health Connector

January 23, 2018

Minnesota

MNSure

January 14, 2018

New York

NY State of Health

January 31, 2018

Rhode Island

Health Source RI

December 31, 2017

Vermont

Vermont Health Connect

December 15, 2017

Washington Washington Health Plan Finder

January 15, 2018

Most consumers—nearly 8 in 10 last year—are eligible for financial assistance. In fact, many people can find a plan for less than the cost of a cell phone plan—for $50 to $100 per month. Even if you don’t think you qualify—you still might. The types of consumers who may get financial assistance may come as a surprise, for example, a family of four with a household income up to $98,000 qualifies for financial assistance.

Essential Health Benefits

And as a reminder, these marketplace plans must cover certain essential health benefits, and they must also cover anyone with a pre-existing condition. These plans carry no annual or lifetime limits, either. The essential benefits included in these plans cover things like doctor visits, trips to the ER, hospital stays, maternity coverage, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs and more.

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Free in-person help is also available to all consumers. If you have a question about your health insurance or think you may need help signing up you may be able to find an appointment with an assister near you. You can also call the HHS Hotline at 800.318.2596. The hotline is open 24/7.

Compare Even if You Already Have Coverage

If you already have coverage, you should still visit healthcare.gov and compare you plan with other options. Some plans may have changed, so you’ll want to make sure you’re still getting the best plan for you and your family’s needs. You can even possibly save money by actively renewing your coverage.

If you don’t sign up for coverage by the December 15 deadline, you will be subject to pay a penalty come tax time. The penalty is at least $695, though it could be even higher depending on your income.

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