The surging coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Supreme Court appointment, contentious national elections and their possible implications to health care in the United States have overshadowed an important health option for people who are uninsured or not covered by an employee health plan — open enrollment for Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. It’s already underway.
ACA Open Enrollment began Nov. 1, and it ends Tuesday, Dec. 15. Those in need may go to HealthCare.gov to sign up for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace to begin Jan. 1, 2021. This is the brief window of time to enroll, re-enroll or to change plans.
With the COVID-19 pandemic coinciding with the annual flu season along, with other ongoing health concerns, the ACA may be more important than ever.
Who is Eligible?
ACA coverage is open to citizens and documented immigrants who live in the United States.
Anyone who needs health coverage for the rest of 2020 may qualify for a special enrollment period due to a change in a qualifying life event, such as getting married or divorced, having a baby, turning 26 and aging out of parent’s health coverage, losing a job, a death in the family, losing existing health coverage, or moving to a different ZIP code or county.
Other qualifying events that could make someone eligible for coverage include leaving incarceration, becoming a U.S. citizen, starting or ending AmeriCorps service, or gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe or shareholder status in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Corporation.
Bronze, Silver and Gold plans are available in the ACA, and vary on the cost of premiums, selected health benefits and annual, out-of-pocket maximum deductibles. Persons with pre-existing health conditions do qualify for ACA health coverage.
What you need to sign up
Information needed to sign up includes some household and financial specifics.
Have ready your best estimate of household income, employer income and information, and Social Security numbers for everyone who will be applying for health insurance coverage.
You also need health coverage information for anyone currently on any type of health plan – that includes Medicaid (Mo HealthNet in Missouri), Medicare, TRICARE, VA health coverage for military families, Peace Corps, employer private insurance coverage or a Marketplace plan.
If you need help enrolling, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS,) awarded $10 million in Navigator grant awards to 30 organizations to serve as navigators in federally facilitated Marketplace states. Trained navigators will help enrollees, for free, through the ACA enrollment application process. In Missouri, a $350,000 award went to the Missouri Alliance of Area Agencies on Aging, focusing on the state’s working poor in all counties in Missouri.
To answer any ACA question you have, to find local help, to preview 2021 health and dental plans, pricing, or to sign up, go to http://www.healthcare.gov.