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What You Need To Know To Enroll In Obamacare For 2018

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Image by Nick Youngson

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, begins in less than a week.

Open enrollment starts November 1, and runs through December 15. However, counties with an emergency declaration because of Hurricane Irma have until December 31 to enroll.

Enrollment comes as President Donald Trump has made big changes – including ending subsidies to lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans. Even if federal lawmakers come through on a fix, Florida insurance rates are locked in for 2018 and are going up 45 percent on average.

90.7 Health Reporter Abe Aboraya spoke with Anne Packham, the Marketplace Project Director for the Primary Care Access Network in Orange County, about what to expect this season.

PACKHAM: In previous year, if you were enrolled in health insurance, and you fell behind on your premiums, you were allowed to re-enroll and catch up. Now, if you are delinquent in your premium paymens, you will not be allowed to re-enroll and sort of catch up. Now, if you’re delinquent, you will not be allowed to re-enroll until you catch up.

[Note: Florida Blue says it will only deny enrollment for people who are in active delinquency within the last three months. Those whose delinquency ended before open enrollment can enroll for 2018. They suggest people who don’t want to continue to coverage call to cancel coverage, and not just stop paying]

ABORAYA: President Trump has announced an end to subsidies insurance companies get to lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Insurance companies are responding by raising next year’s rates by an average of 45 percent. Who will be hit hardest by those increases?

PACKHAM: The people hardest hit are the people who don’t get the subsidies. So people of more moderate income, an individual making more $46,000 per year or a family of four making $100,000 per year. Their premiums may go up as much as 45 percent. Some people who are higher income may be better off buying a plan off the marketplace. Here’s an example. One of the people I was talking to, she’s older, she’s 64, so at the top age level. On the marketplace, it was gonna be $1,400 (per month) next year. About $1,000 (per month) off the exchange. Exactly the same plan.

ABORAYA: The Affordable Care Act is still law, but there have been several efforts to repeal it, and several big changes to the law. Are you seeing people who think the law has been overturned?

PACKHAM: There’s a lot of confusion. We had people calling us, saying what should I do? Should I enroll for next year? Is this gonna affect my care, like, next week if I’m getting a procedure? What we’re telling people is really the law hasn’t changed, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t been repealed, nothing has changed. We’ll actually have more plans available in Orange County than last year and Central Florida in general. The number of counties with only one [insurance company] has decreased, which is different than nationwide. More competition should help lower costs. That’s a statewide phenomenon, especially here in Central Florida, we’re seeing more options.

For more information on open enrollment, visit here or call 877-813-9115. The following open enrollment events are scheduled:

  • Friday, October 27, 11:30 a.m., South Orlando Goodwill Job Connection at 7531 South Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, Florida 32809
  • Sunday, Nov. 4, noon to 4 p.m., at Rosen JCC, 11184 S Apopka Vineland Rd, Orlando, FL 32836
  • Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hope Community Center, 1016 N. Park Ave., Apopka, FL 32712

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

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