The deadline for the Affordable Care Act is next week, here's how to get help
The final day to enroll in the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace coverage is next Thursday. Healthcare plan "navigators" at the University of South Florida have received thousands of calls in need of help sorting through the complexities of the market, and leaders expect those calls to increase as the deadline looms closer.
Since enrollment opened on Nov. 1, 3.4 million Americans have selected an Affordable ACA Marketplace health insurance plan; nearly 900,000 people were from Florida alone, according to USF's Florida Covering Kids and Families — the largest navigator program in the county.
Dec. 15 is the last day for enrollment into a healthcare plan starting Jan 1st. However, those who do not meet the deadline can still sign up before January 15th, in which case their coverage will begin Feb. 1, but they will not have coverage throughout the month of January.
Jodi Ray the director of Florida Covering Kids and Families at the University of South Florida said marketplace navigators are available to help families figure out the best plan for their specific needs.
“We provide access to all the health plans in the Marketplace and help consumers understand what all their options are so that they can make what would be an informed decision. So we help them navigate that process. We also help them to understand the complexity of comparing different plans when you're talking about deductibles and coinsurance and all of that stuff,” Ray said.
First-time marketplace users can search for their own plan without the use of a navigator, but Ray doesn't recommend it. While some consumers may just be looking for any kind of coverage, some families are looking for plans to cover specific medications or ways to keep their family doctor.
Families with specific needs should consider consulting a navigator, a process that is free to use, Ray said.
“What's difficult is navigating the complexity of individual lives, and applying that in a way that is correct and appropriate so that they can avail themselves of what tax credits or what cost sharing is out there, and understand how that's going to affect their access to care,” she said.
Families can find a navigator by visiting Healthcare.gov and clicking on “FIND LOCAL HELP.” They can also call 877-813-9115.
Ray said the last week of enrollment will be intense with callers and availability will be scarce, but appointments can still be made at night and over the weekend.