Last updated May 21, 2018
You Can Use the Form Below To View Health Plans in the State of Alabama
Alabama does not have its own state exchange, which means it’s one of the 28 states that exclusively rely on Healthcare.gov as the federal portal to enrollment. In addition to being able to use the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov, for enrollment in an Obamacare plan, Alabamians can also call and speak to a licensed health insurance agent, who can help them compare and enroll over the phone or they can shop and compare on an independent website like this one and use a web-based online broker to enroll in a plan on their own.
Requirement by Law
Despite the fact that the state of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has been a popular topic in Congress since President Trump took office after the 2016 election, Obamacare is still the law of the land and people must get qualifying health coverage or else they will penalized through the individual mandate. Despite the fact that Congress passed a tax bill in late 2017 that abolished the individual mandate starting in 2019, the IRS is still required to uphold the mandate in 2018. Under the Affordable Care Act, all eligible Americans must enroll in qualifying health insurance under the law or face a penalty fee, which is the greater of 2.5 percent of your household’s taxable income or $695 per adult ($347.50 per child under 18).
Enrollment in Alabama
Alabama’s enrollment numbers during the 2018 open enrollment period were fairly consistent to the year prior, which is great considering some states saw huge dips in enrollment numbers from 2017 like West Virginia and Louisiana. In 2018, 170,211 Alabamians enrolled in health insurance on the federal exchange, which is a 5 percent decrease from the year before. During the 2017 open enrollment period, 178,414 people signed up for health insurance using the federal exchange, compared to just over 195,000 in 2016.
The decrease in enrollment numbers in Alabama is due to the same reasons that enrollment were down around the country, which is that people were confused about the status of Obamacare under President Trump’s Administration and the intent of Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the law. Fewer carrier and plan options and increases costs were also huge motivating factors to whether people showed up to enroll or not.
While people in Alabama can go straight to the HealthCare.gov website for coverage, it may be easier to research and compare plans on an independent comparison site like this one and then call a licensed agent to enroll in the exact plan you want or use a web-based broker to submit your application for that insurance plan. Getting current quotes from multiple carriers can help you find a plan that adequately addresses your needs and fits your budget. Brokers may also help explain your options more clearly.
In 2018, Alabaman customers were able to choose from two carriers on the exchange: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, which is offering coverage in all counties for next year, and Bright Health, which will offer plans in the Birmingham metro area. BCBS customers may see an increase in premiums this year of 15.7 percent.
The next enrollment period for the 2019 calendar year begins on November 1, 2018 and ends a short 45 days later, on December 15, 2018. This will be the new enrollment period going forward. People who think that they want to use a licensed insurance agent to help them compare and choose a plan are encouraged not to wait until the end of the open enrollment period to call because there’s a good chance that they will be met with very long hold lines.
If an Alabamian misses the next open enrollment period or missed the last open enrollment period and wants an Obamacare plan now, they will only be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period if they experience a qualifying life event and submit an application for new insurance within 60 days of the date that the event occurred. A couple examples of a qualifying life event are: you moved to a new ZIP Code and your coverage is no longer available to you, you got divorced and lost your coverage through your spouse, you turned 26 and can no longer being insured under your parent’s plan, you had a child who now needs coverage, or you lost your coverage through your employer. There are a few more examples of a qualifying life events that may trigger a Special Enrollment Period, but be aware that in 2017 CMS passed a rule that made it increasingly more difficult to qualifying for a Special Enrollment Period, so it may be best to reach out to an agent if you think you may qualify.
For lower and middle class families, who earn between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, the federal government will subsidize the monthly cost of your health insurance to make it more affordable. Under Obamacare, the government will pay the insurance carrier the subsidy you are eligible for based on your household income and you will be billed by your carrier for the rest. If your income changes throughout the year, you should advise Healthcare.gov of the change so that your subsidy can be adjusted appropriately. If you take too much in the way of subsidies during the year, which is not supported by the tax return you file for that calendar year, you may be asked to pay back the difference between what you took and what you should have taken when you file. Approximately 90 percent of Alabamians qualified for premium subsidies in 2017.