Move in Washington to kill 'Obamacare' raises anxiety at home over health insurance

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 for buying individual health insurance plans for 2018. Nationwide, enrollment in the health insurance market under the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as "Obamacare") is expected to plunge next year due to uncertainty under the Trump administration, according to a Wall Street forecast.

“Insurer exits, higher-than-expected premium rate hikes, a series of repeal-and-replace votes, the cancellation of future federal cost-sharing reduction (CSR) subsidies, an executive order on health care, and a recent discussion about a short-term bipartisan fix” are all contributing to what could be a 7 to 13 percent drop from the 12.2 million who signed up in 2017, according to the estimate from S&P Global.

For residents in New York state, however, there is less to be worried about — at least for now. New York is one of 12 states that opted to run its own health insurance exchange. It’s not one of the 38 states that rely on the federal marketplace to sell individual insurance policies. For them, the Trump administration slashed the budget for marketing and enrollment specialists. It also cut the enrollment period in half, to six weeks.

NY State of Health marketplace has its own budget and maintains control over advertising, the length of the enrollment period and the level of help it offers consumers.

“Having affordable health insurance is essential to getting the health care you need. That’s why we are encouraging people to sign up starting Nov. 1,” said Joy Davia Auch, regional Communications Manager for insurer Excellus BlueCrossBlueShield.

“The Affordable Care Act is still the law. While there has been a lot of talk about repeal, nothing has changed. You still must have health coverage or risk paying a penalty,” she said.

Beginning Nov. 1 you will still be able to visit NYStateofHealth.NY.Gov and sign up for affordable coverage, said Auch: “You can still get financial help to lower your premiums and deductibles. And all of the plans must cover essential health benefits that keep you healthy and are there in case you have an accident or get sick, she said. “When you sign up for health coverage during open enrollment, you are guaranteed a year of coverage with your insurance company so long as you keep paying your premiums.”

“It’s really important for people to understand that they will still get all of the financial assistance they qualify for, including cost-sharing reductions, despite the decision to stop funding these payments,” she added. “Even though insurance companies may have increased rates, the tax credit you receive increases too so you may not end up paying any more for your coverage. It’s important that people come back in to shop — if you don’t receive a tax credit to lower your monthly premiums, there may be a plan that still meets your needs but saves you money.”

The open enrollment period for the NY State of Health marketplace runs from Nov. 1, 2017 through Jan. 31, 2018. But you will have to buy a plan by Dec. 15, 2017, for coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2018.

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