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There are only two days left to get covered!

Consumers have until December 15th to obtain health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace. Those who need coverage should visit www.healthcare.gov to shop, compare and find a plan that meets their needs. It is important to keep in mind that ACA plans prohibit annual or lifetime limits on coverage, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and do not discriminate based on age or gender.

ACA-compliant plans also offer essential health benefits such as ambulatory services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services, laboratory services, preventive and wellness services, and pediatric services.

Plans such as short-term limited-duration plans and association health plans are not ACA plans. As we have previously highlighted, these plans may be less expensive but they do not offer comprehensive coverage. Consumers should use extreme caution when looking at plans that do not offer the ACA’s consumer and coverage protections.

We have closely monitored actions taken by the Administration that have affected enrollment. During this Open Enrollment period, we saw:

  • The amount of time to enroll shortened again this year;
  • Healthcare.gov down for maintenance during critical periods;
  • Funding for enrollment assistance and outreach slashed; and
  • Critical enrollment assistance information removed from healthcare.gov.

Reports monitoring enrollment have shown a significant decrease this year in the number of people purchasing plans. The Administration’s actions (or inaction) have had significant impact on access to quality coverage. A new report by the Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project states that “Indeed, the overhaul of the “Apply for Health Insurance” page and the removal of the Latino outreach training guide come amid an array of Trump administration efforts to undermine the Open Enrollment period.” The removal of information about Hispanic outreach is especially concerning. A new report by the Urban Institute and the Episcopal Health Foundation, analyzing coverage in Texas shows that “61 percent of Texans without health insurance are Hispanic, compared to 24 percent white and 10 percent black. Researchers also found that nearly two-thirds of the uninsured in Texas are U.S. citizens.” The example from this one state shows the need for more, not less outreach and enrollment assistance.   

As we have stated before, voters could not have been clearer in last month’s election – they value access to comprehensive coverage. It is time they received it.

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