Despite higher premium prices for next year, HealthCare.gov enrollment numbers were up by 50 percent on Tuesday, which marked the first day of the 2017 Obamacare open enrollment period. Over 60,000 applications were filed in six hours, which is double that of the first day of enrollment last year, per the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The benchmark plan is based on the second-lowest-cost silver plan in each region and covers about 70 percent of consumers’ health expenses. Benchmark plans are experiencing a 25 percent rate increase next year, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing anyone down.
Qualifying for cost assistance and tax subsidies keeps the premium payments in check for 85 percent of those who enroll. Individuals buying health plans outside of the marketplaces might also qualify for financial aid if they join the Affordable Care Act exchanges. A major factor in whether you qualify is whether your income falls between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).
People who are considering first-time enrollment or comparing existing health care plans have until January 31 to enroll, but if you want your coverage to begin on January 1, you will need to sign up by December 15.
Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare exited the Affordable Care Act exchanges for 2017 enrollment along with a few regional insurers. Nearly 1.8 million people need to log in to the exchanges to look for new coverage this year. You may have received a letter regarding the need to look for other coverage, but if you’re unsure, call a HealthCare.gov customer service representative, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or reach out to a health insurance agent as soon as possible.
Since HealthCare.gov serves 39 states, there may be a little trouble processing large volumes of applications, but representatives are doing all they can to make the process a smooth one by working to guarantee the best possible visit to the website.
The Affordable Care Act requires all U.S. residents to have health insurance. The Obamacare marketplaces enrolled nearly 12 million people in individual and family plans last year, a fraction of the people covered by their employers. If you don’t already have coverage through work or programs like Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you will need to purchase a plan or be subject to the individual mandate tax penalty.
If you miss the opportunity to sign up during open enrollment, you will need to see whether you qualify for an exemption based on certain qualifying events, or look to temporary coverage like short-term health insurance, a high-deductible plan intended only to protect you from catastrophic illness or accident, until you are able to enroll in a qualified Obamacare plan.
Leaving the application process to the last minute could cause coverage gaps while preventing access to cost assistance until the next open enrollment period. Get coverage quickly and conveniently this year by checking out your options on and off the marketplace.