The Affordable Care Act has been under attack in 2017, but at least so far, the federal government hasn’t passed legislation repealing the ACA, better known as Obamacare. AS a result, Obamacare open enrollment will go forward as scheduled, allowing Americans to sign up for healthcare coverage using ACA-sanctioned insurance marketplaces.
However, if you expect to use Obamacare coverage in 2018, there are some things about open enrollment that you’ll need to be aware of before you look to sign up.
When Can I sign up for 2018 Obamacare coverage?
The Obamacare open enrollment period for the 2018 plan years begins on Nov. 1. It runs for 45 days ending on Dec. 15. That’s a change from previous years, when longer periods were available. Last year, for instance, open enrolment started on Nov. 1 and rant through Jan. 31. If you wanted your coverage to take effect by Jan. 2, then you had to act by Dec. 15, but those who filed in the latter half of the period still had the ability to enroll or make changes.
Where can you sign up?
The Healthcare.gov website is still the central clearinghouse where you can get information about coverage under the Affordable Care Act. However, as has been the case in past years, not all Americans will enroll for coverage using the site.
Will signing up for Obamacare be harder than in past years?
The Trump administration has made several changes to the way it implements the Affordable Care Act compared to how the Obama administration worked with the healthcare coverage program, and some of them could result in greater difficulty for some people in signing up for Obamacare. Substantial cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget for Obamacare will result in spending reductions on certain efforts related to the program.
For instance, advertising from the federal government promoting the Affordable Care Act will be down 90% from previous years. The government has also reduced its spending on outreach efforts through community groups and other institutions.
These changes will put more of the onus on participants to seek out the information they need to enroll in Obamacare.
Another recent controversy has centered on administration plans to close the Healthcare.gov website for maintenance for 12-hour periods from midnight to noon Eastern time on Sundays during the enrollment period, with the exception of the final Sunday on Dec. 10. Administration officials have said that website maintenance is routine, but critics believe that the period of downtime is excessive and unnecessarily long.