Affordable Care Act health insurance enrollment period begins

Andrew Harnik  AP

Andrew Harnik AP

Open enrollment starts today and ends December 15, a sign-up period six weeks shorter than last year's.

The enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act began on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2017 but there are changes this year that buyers should be aware of. The state has opened enrollment centers with staff to help consumers sort through their options and enroll, including one such center in Olympia operated by GHB Insurance.

In August, the Trump administration announced it was slashing the budget to advertise for signing up for health care through the ACA, or Obamacare, from $100 million to $10 million.

"Taking away the advertising means that people aren't going to get those reminders", said Lori Lodes, co-founder of Get America Covered.

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It's just one of the reasons Tucson's Mayor, Jonathan Rothschild, flanked by a group of health care professionals, opened the enrollment period by reminding people "the Affordable Care Act is still the law". The average premium increase this year has jumped to 36.4 percent, and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler attributed 10 percentage points of that increase to President Trump's decision to stop funding the cost-sharing reduction assistance. Navigating through the plans with different copays and different deductibles is easier in person, said Kaiser. In 2017, 85 percent of consumers who purchased health insurance through the federally facilitated exchanges were eligible for Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTCs).[7] For those who receive APTCs, the amount of income they can spend on premiums is capped at a certain percentage.

Officials say they cut ads because spending so much money wasn't warranted, and the scaled-back counseling programs weren't enrolling many consumers. All plans selected during open enrollment will take effect January 1, 2018.

El Rio will call all of those who have signed up for the ACA in the past, to remind them, they must do it again within the six week window.

You can get an exemption if the lowest priced marketplace premium is more than roughly 8 percent of your income in 2018 or you show some other hardship.

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With insurers exiting the market, about half of counties will only have one participating carrier offering plans.

And the emails that were sent, according to the Post, were stripped of perhaps their most convincing element, determined by the Obama administration through extensive research: cost savings. Two insurers - Delta Dental of Delaware, Inc. and Dominion Dental Services, Inc. - will offer a collective 12 stand-alone dental plans.

Many more consumers will be able to enroll in bronze plans and pay nothing each month.

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