Open enrollment to sign up for or renew health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) began November 1 and ends December 15, 2017. The ACA Marketplace allows individuals to find some of the best and most affordable healthcare plans available, but it can be a bit overwhelming to navigate.
Before you enroll, consider researching the ACA and the ACA Marketplace. Outreach from the federal government regarding healthcare enrollment has been reduced by the current administration, thus placing more responsibility on us as individuals to discover the facts. For a basic understanding of the Marketplace, checkout the Health Insurance Marketplace 101 resource provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. Although this serves as an informative educational resource, many of the dates are from the 2014 enrollment period when the document was written. Don’t let that confuse you because the information is still valuable. For the correct 2018 enrollment period dates, please refer to the official Marketplace dates and deadlines at healthcare.gov.
After you understand the basic details, it is important to determine which coverage is best for you. Since health insurance plans vary from state to state, you will want to know the options for North Carolinians. The following resource at healthinsurance.org provides highlights and updates of plans offered in North Carolina, how the plans have changed for this enrollment period, and a phone number you can call to get a free quote. Make sure you also create an account or update your account information at healthcare.gov. (Healthcare.gov has a helpful FAQ with answers to common questions or confusions you may encounter.) The Marketplace has planned maintenance outages every Sunday from 12 am-12pm ET–except December 10–so do not delay in creating or updating your account. Although you are unable to enroll during these outages, it does not prevent you from researching and preparing for enrollment when the site is fully functioning again.
The Affordable Care Act is federal law, so you must enroll or face a fee. If you are having trouble, I urge you to call a representative or use the Get Covered Connector to find application assisters in your area that can help you with your application in-person.
Despite the shortened sign-up period, enrollment has reached almost 1.5 million. Many individuals have found the ACA to be the only option available when not covered by an employer or other group plan, and many have found affordable coverage for themselves and their families. Don’t miss out on lifesaving health care coverage for 2018 because of the confusion surrounding the ACA. Helpful representatives are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to guide you through it.
As the health care debate rages on, scripture reminds us “[our bodies are] temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We must honor this gift of the Creator using the current structure to take care of our bodies, while we continue working toward access to health care for all God’s children.