Health Care

Open enrollment for Obamacare 2018 coverage begins Wednesday

5 steps to staying covered under Obamacare

The window for enrollment and renewal for marketplace coverage was Nov. 1-Dec. 15, but most Florida residents qualify for an extension to Dec. 31 due to Hurricane Irma. Here are tips on how to stay covered.
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The window for enrollment and renewal for marketplace coverage was Nov. 1-Dec. 15, but most Florida residents qualify for an extension to Dec. 31 due to Hurricane Irma. Here are tips on how to stay covered.

Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act coverage begins Wednesday.

The law known as Obamacare is still in effect. But unlike past years, consumers will have fewer days to sign up, and they will be automatically re-enrolled in a plan if they do not select one by the deadline of Dec. 15 — with no option to change afterward.

Premiums in Florida rose by an average of 45 percent for 2018, but consumers with subsidized coverage may find better deals for 2018.

“One of the things we want to make sure is that consumers know it is possible that they can see some better deals this year,” said Jodi Ray, project director of Florida Covering Kids & Families, a navigator group that helps Floridians enroll for ACA coverage.

Individual consumers who earn $12,000 to $48,000 a year — or $20,000 to $80,000 for a family of three — may qualify for financial aid to help lower their monthly premiums. Of the estimated 1.4 million Floridians with ACA coverage in February 2017, more than 93 percent or 1.3 million received a subsidy that lowered their monthly premiums.

Those consumers who do not qualify for subsidies should shop for coverage off the exchange, where insurers are selling plans with smaller premium increases than plans sold on the ACA exchange at healthcare.gov.

The penalty for qualified individuals who fail to sign up for coverage is the greater of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child up to a maximum of $2,085 — or 2.5 percent of household income up to a maximum of the national average price of the lowest cost coverage on the ACA exchange.

Health Overhaul Signups
In this May 18, 2017 file photo, the Healthcare.gov website is seen on a laptop computer, in Washington. Open enrollment to sign up for Affordable Care Act coverage next year begins Nov. 1 and ends on Dec. 15. Alex Brandon AP

In addition, the IRS said it will reject all tax returns that do not address the ACA’s requirements for qualified coverage in 2017.

Consumers can visit HealthCare.gov and CuidadodeSalud.gov or call 800-318-2596 to fill out an application and enroll in a 2018 ACA exchange health plan.

Personal help is available through Florida Covering Kids & Families, which is taking appointments through its website at CoveringFlorida.org, and the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, a statewide navigator based in Doral, which has posted a schedule of daily events for consumers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties at its website, efof.org.

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