SCC offers tips on health insurance marketplace open enrollment

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Open enrollment begins today for the Affordable Care Act, and local advocates worry that health insurance changes this year might confuse consumers and keep them from selecting the best plans for their health. "Governor Murphy's commitment to increasing the number of people with health insurance will certainly result in a stronger and healthier New Jersey, and the Department of Health is committed to doing everything it can to educate people about the need to be insured", Commissioner Elnahal wrote in his letter to providers.

Last week, the Trump administration introduced a proposed rule which, if adopted, would grant states greater flexibility in pursuing health care strategies.

"For young people, who are often purchasing insurance for the first time, restoring this funding would mean that they would once again get the impartial, expert guidance that only Navigators can provide, and could help those who don't know about open enrollment and the ACA marketplace find coverage before it's too late", Hemlin said. These plans don't have to meet the criteria required by the ACA, so they may not cover certain conditions.

"All these things we did under the Affordable Care Act are under threat", said Menendez, one of the authors of the law.

Enrollees can choose one of eight Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of DE plans that are available for purchase in 2019 or they will be automatically re-enrolled in a plan that is similar to the one they now have. Though decreases will bring down premium rates, an individual's out-of-pocket premium costs depends on several factors, including the amount of Advanced Premium Tax Credit subsidies; therefore, some consumers may experience an increase in out-of-pocket costs for coverage.

The state will formally mark the Health Insurance Marketplace's sixth enrollment period with a press event at 1 p.m. November 5 at Westside Family Healthcare's Northeast Wilmington Health Center, 908-B E. 16th St. Westside is the only organization in DE to receive federal funding for navigators to help people enroll for coverage either in person or over the phone.

The state's campaign involves $450,000 - comprised of funding from DOBI, the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services - to conduct outreach, advertise the open enrollment period, and other promotions.

Consumers should contact licensed insurance agents or company representatives for assistance in considering 2019 plan coverage. In a major switch, federal health officials have just said they are open to states using the ACA's subsidies to help people afford insurance premiums for these health plans, but states have not had time to get permission for this enrollment period.

She says there are several low-priced plans - and even plans with no premiums at all - that will give you a discount based on income. The PHIS Call Center will be available to assist consumers enrolling for their 2019 health plan. Florida Blue is the only insurer that's offering plans in all 67 counties.

Nationally, average premiums are going up only by low single-digit percentages for 2019. He believes the coverage has been worth the $290 he pays monthly in premiums. "It is confusing and there are some new products available that will further confuse people", he said.

Financial help is available for individuals with annual incomes up to $48,560; for a family of four the income limit is $100,400.

Mike Hewitt plans to re-enroll. The penalty for not having insurance expires at the end of this year.

About 11.8 million people signed up for health insurance through ACA markets in 2018, 400,000 fewer than the prior year, according to the Trump administration. For 2018, the maximum penalty will not exceed $2,085 per household.

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