Since 2010, more than 20 million people have obtained coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Approximately 10 million of those people obtained coverage through the ACA health-insurance marketplace.
But due to significant cuts to resources allocated to informing the public about the ACA, many people may not know that the marketplace enrollment period is starting — and ending — soon. The enrollment period is shorter than ever this year, beginning on Nov. 1, 2017, and ending on Dec.15, 2017.
Prospective enrollees have just over six weeks to apply for 2018 health-insurance coverage under the ACA. In years past, the enrollment period lasted a full 12 weeks — twice as long as now.
Under President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced in August that it would cut the advertising budget for the online health-insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov, by 90 percent. This leaves a mere 10 million dollars dedicated to getting the word out about ACA enrollment — and the changes Trump’s administration has made to it — to Americans who may need it.
To combat actions at the federal level, Gov. Tom Wolf announced yesterday that the Department of Insurance will launch a statewide media campaign, funded by insurers, to help fill the void left by the advertising cuts.
“The Affordable Care Act, while not perfect, is allowing more Pennsylvanians access to health care, and we want to be sure people using the exchange have all the information they need at the ready to help them make the right choice for them and their families,” said Wolf said in a statement.
The Pennsylvania Department of Insurance made an online plan comparison tool
and fact sheet
in an effort to make the process of applying for ACA insurance as accessible as possible.
“Despite President Trump's best efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, it's still standing, and the financial assistance and protections it offers is still available,” says Erin Ninehouser, of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network. “Don't get discouraged by the headlines and noise.”
Ninehouser says 4 out of 5 people qualify for some financial help through the ACA. For people who need help figuring out how to apply or what plans are available to them, Ninehouser recommends taking advantage of the assistance offered by nonprofit organizations like the Consumer Health Coalition
(CHC), which is based in Pittsburgh’s North Side. CHC will be holding informational events
all around Allegheny County over the next several weeks that are open to the public.
Ninehouser also encourages enrollees to avoid waiting until the last minute to apply for coverage, as the website and call center will be backed-up due to high traffic.
“Having health insurance protects your health and your wallet,” Ninehouser says. “ And these days, we can use all the peace of mind we can get.”