Opening day of enrollment for federal health insurance marketplace

Open enrollment period is shorter, and federal govt. has cut ads and outreach, but state and local agencies filling the info gap

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPVI) -- Open enrollment for individuals who buy their own health insurance coverage begins today, however, this year, it only runs for 45 days.

The enrollment period for 2018 ends Dec. 1.

Not only is the enrollment period shorter, but people will see fewer ads, navigators, workshops, and outreach efforts by the federal government.

The Trump administration drastically cut the budget for marketing the marketplaces.

But state and local governments, insurance companies themselves, and non-profits are trying to fill that gap to boost enrollment.

Some health experts are concerned about enrollment numbers, in light of last month's Gallup survey showing a rise in those without insurance by 3 and a half million since last fall.

It's the first increase since 2014.

Remember, the health law has not been repealed, so the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

And that means requirements for most people to have insurance, and for employers to offer it, are also the law.

If you don't get insurance through your workplace, you are still required to get insurance or pay a penalty.

The fine is $695 or 2.5 per cent of the taxpayer's income.

You can get an exemption is you prove you can't afford any of the insurance offerings in your area.

Because the law is still in effect, so are its popular provisions, such as the ban on denying insurance due to pre-existing conditions, being able to keep children on a parent's policy till age 26.

The IRS has said it will start rejecting returns filed in 2018 that don't indicate whether the taxpayer had health insurance.

This year, it's especially important to shop around - and choose an insurance plan yourself, so the marketplace doesn't automatically assign you to one.

Many plans have changes, so you might be given a plan that doesn't work for you, or is more expensive than you planned.

And beware, auto-renewal dates are December 16th, the day after enrollment ends.

Independence Blue Cross, which offers plans in the Philadelphia area, will have its info bus out every day except Thanksgiving til December 15.

For help, there are many resources:

The federal marketplace (English-language):

The federal marketplace Spanish-language website:

For 24/7 phone help, the federal call center is: 1-800-318-2596

Independence Blue Cross - schedule for Independence Express mobile education and enrollment center - Independence Express.

Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association -