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Thursday
Oct252018

It’s almost time for open enrollment in ACA coverage!

Open enrollment starts in one week! Get ready!

Open Enrollment for 2019 health plans begins in just one week, on November 1st. This is the sixth year people who otherwise might not have access to health coverage can go to HealthCare.gov and enroll in a high-quality health plan. That’s because all of us have succeeded in keeping the Affordable Care Act (ACA) the law, despite attempts by Congress and the White House to repeal or undermine it.
 
What’s new this year? The good news is that in some states, people will be paying less this year for health insurance. It’s important that anyone interested in enrolling -- or re-enrolling -- in a health plan compare options at HealthCare.gov each year. As the markets have matured, new insurance carriers have entered some parts of the country, expanding choice and competition. In addition, subsidies to people meeting income thresholds rise in proportion to rate increases. So, even if you have heard that rates have gone up in your area, you should still research your options since you may qualify for a money-saving subsidy.
 
Something else new this year is the expanded sale, in some states, of short-term health plans that are not ACA marketplace plans. These plans were originally intended as “stop-gap” health insurance policies for people who are between plans -- such as when changing jobs and waiting to become eligible for a new employer’s health plan.. The short-term plans may appear cheaper than the plans being sold through healthcare.gov, but they are NOT comprehensive coverage! Many omit coverage for maternity care, prescription drugs or mental health care. They have hidden coverage gaps that can leave you stuck with large medical bills, and also can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. That’s why these policies are often referred to as “junk” health plans or “band-aid” plans. We urge you to ask questions about what such a plan would really cover before buying one.
 
For the second year in a row, Raising Women’s Voices is proud to be participating in an outreach campaign designed specifically to reach low-income people, women of color, Latinx people, immigrants, LGBTQ people, people with disabilities and their families. Along with Community Catalyst and other national non-profits, Raising Women’s Voices and our regional coordinators will be using social media to reach our constituencies with messages like those seen here. In addition, Raising Women’s Voices has created flyers for advocates to customize and distribute within their communities. You can find all of these materials here in both English and Spanish.
 
We know that many of the immigrant families we serve are worried that enrolling in health coverage could cause them to be deemed a “public charge,” and become ineligible for visas or green cards. So, it’s important to know that federal subsidies for purchase of an ACA marketplace plan are not included in the Trump administration’s proposed “public charge” rule. Enrollment in a Medicaid plan -- except for “emergency Medicaid” --would be considered in deciding whether someone is a “public charge,” but only 60 days after the final rule goes into effect. The proposed rule won’t take effect until sometime next year, and it will not be applied retroactively. So, there is no reason to drop coverage now, or fail to enroll if you are an eligible immigrant. 
 
In most states, Open Enrollment will last just six weeks, ending December 15. However, people who become uninsured at other times of the year due to certain life events including job loss, marriage, divorce, a move or domestic violence can apply for aSpecial Enrollment Period outside of Open Enrollment. People who qualify for Medicaid based on their income do not need to wait for Open Enrollment. Similarly, children can be enrolled in CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) at any time of the year. Learn more about Medicaid and CHIP here.

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