The window is closing for Americans who want to sign up for individual health insurance for 2018.
Americans who enroll in health care coverage on their own – not through their employer – must do so during a specified time called the open enrollment period. Thanks to the Trump administration’s Obamacare rollbacks, that time period is much shorter than in years before.
Below is everything you need to know about how to sign up for Obamacare this year, and how it will be affected by the Trump administration.
When is the Obamacare enrollment deadline?
The majority of people seeking coverage starting 1 January of next year must apply by 11:59 pm on 15 December, 2017.
However, some people can qualify for a special enrollment period if they recently experienced certain life events, such as losing health coverage, moving, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child. Special enrollment periods usually last 60 days after the qualifying life event.
People living in states that run their own exchanges, like California and New York, may also have more time to sign up.
How do I sign up?
Insurance seekers can enroll in one of five ways: online, by phone, through an assister, through a broker, or by mail.
Those seeking coverage online can create an account at HealthCare.gov. If you’d rather register online, you can contact the Marketplace Call Centre at 1-800-318-2596.
People hoping to register in person can apply with the help of a certified assiter, or a registered broker. Assisters are employed by the government, while brokers work for the insurance companies whose plans they hope to sell.
You can also print out a paper application from the HealthCare.gov website. Eligibility results can take up to two weeks to come back.
What information do I need?
Applicants may need to provide income and employer information for everyone in their immediate family. This may include pay stubs, W-2 forms, or tax statements.
You’ll also need to include information on any health care insurance available to you and your family through employers, and the policy number of any coverage you already have.
This information is necessary to determine what level of coverage you qualify for, and if you can get any government help in paying for it.
Applicants will also need to provide their Social Security numbers. Immigrants can provide the numbers from other applicable documents.
What’s happening with Obamacare at the moment? Is Trump going to kill it?
Despite Republicans’ numerous attempts to repeal it this summer, Obamacare is still the law of the land – and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon.
That said, Donald Trump has taken several stabs at the policy that he once claimed was in a “death spiral”. Using executive orders, the President cut subsidies to insurance companies that previously helped them lower prices for consumers. He also cut the Obamacare enrollment period and slashed funding to advertise it.
Still, American seem to be making the most of Obamacare while it lasts. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said more than 600,000 people signed up for coverage in the first four days of this year’s enrollment period – up 79 percent from the comparable period a year ago.
Many of those enrolling this December also won’t have to pay the higher premiums they feared. The Trump administration increased subsidies for enrollees who qualify, meaning many low-income Americans will wind up paying less than expected. According to CMS data, 80 per cent of enrollees will pay less than $75 a month for their premiums next year.
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