Friday, December 15, 2017

Health-insurance deadline in most states is tonight; your current plan may not be the best for you

Photo by Joe Raedle, Getty Images
The deadline for signing up for health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is midnight tonight in most states. People now on ACA plans will be automatically re-enrolled, but are advised to check their options because changes in the insurance market and government subsidies mean that re-enrolling under the same plan is not the best option for some people.

"As of last week, nearly 4.7 million people had signed up for a 2018 health plan through, the online federal insurance marketplace that serves consumers in 39 states," Noam Levey reports for the Los Angeles Times. "Several million more are estimated to have signed up through marketplaces in 11 other states and the District of Columbia. The pace of enrollment has actually been quicker this year than last, according to federal data. And enrollment by new customers is up nearly 17 percent."

Despite the record pace of signups early in this year's enrollment period, overall signups are not expected to match last year's total of 9.2 million, because the Trump administration cut the enrollment period to six weeks from three months and cut almost all funding for advertising and outreach.

The law requiring almost all Americans to get health coverage or pay a penalty on tax returns would be repealed by the tax legislation pending in Congress, but under the last version available, it would not affect tax returns that will be filed in 2018 for 2017.

"Some consumers who miss the cutoff could be surprised to learn they have the opportunity to enroll later," notes Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News. "People are entitled to a special enrollment period when they have specific changes in their lives, such as losing other health insurance, getting married or having a child, or when they have a change in income that affects their eligibility for premium tax credits or cost-sharing reduction subsidies. Those special enrollment periods generally last at least 60 days."

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