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Health-Care Marketplace Reopens Today: What You Need to Know

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The annual open enrollment for the federal healthcare marketplace opens today. (Carolina Quezada/NHCHC)
The annual open enrollment for the federal healthcare marketplace opens today. (Carolina Quezada/NHCHC)
November 1, 2016

PHOENIX – Annual enrollment for the health-care marketplace opens today and runs through the end of January. So now's the time to sign up for a plan or find a new one if your insurance plan is being discontinued, as several health insurers have exited the federal marketplace. Each county still has at least one insurer offering a range of plans.

Allen Gjersvig, the director of navigator and enrollment services for the Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers, said people shouldn't worry about the recent spate of stories about rising premiums but rather explore their options or make a free appointment with a health-care navigator on CoverAZ.org.

"And you may be pleasantly surprised," he said. "Many, many lower-income Arizonans who already have marketplace plans will be able to get a plan for 2017 and see virtually no increase."

Blue Cross Blue Shield is offering plans in every county except Maricopa, where Centene is offering plans under the name Ambetter. Many families qualify for subsidies to help with premiums. In addition, the recent revival of the KidsCare program means many families can save money by enrolling their children.

Diane Brown, the executive director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, said she'd like to see the 2017 state Legislature empower the Department of Insurance to block any rate increases deemed unjustified.

"Right now the Department of Insurance can flag concern with any double-digit rate increase but they cannot stop that increase from going forward," she said.

More than 30 states give their Department of Insurance some sort of so-called "prior approval" watchdog powers, including California, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ