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Deadlines Approach for Affordable Care Enrollment in NM

New Mexico's 250,000 residents eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act marketplace will most likely face rising premiums when enrollment for 2018 opens next Wednesday.  (publichealthnm.org)
New Mexico's 250,000 residents eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act marketplace will most likely face rising premiums when enrollment for 2018 opens next Wednesday. (publichealthnm.org)
October 27, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico residents who get their health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act or "Obamacare" might pay more attention to the deadlines approaching for 2018 enrollment - and less attention to rhetoric from politicians.

Veronica Reyes, outreach manager for the state exchange program "Be Well NM," says it's business as usual - but people have only six weeks to enroll starting next Wednesday, for health-insurance coverage for 2018. With rising premiums and shifting subsidies, Reyes says they'll need to be diligent and research all the options.

"There's a lot of information happening at the national level - however, the law remains the same," she explains. "The Affordable Care Act has not changed, so it is still required that people have health insurance."

Reyes says about 70 percent of New Mexicans are eligible for health-insurance subsidies to help them pay their premiums, based on income and family size. Open enrollment begins on November 1 and ends December 15. That six-week window is only half of last year's signup period. Information is online at bewell.com or by calling 1-833-862-3935.

In New Mexico, 250,000 people are eligible for coverage through the state's health-insurance exchange. Now, about 46,000 use the program.

Reyes says New Mexico has enrollment centers in Albuquerque, Gallup, Las Cruces and Santa Fe, and there are certified agents and brokers in other communities across the state who can help with the enrollment process.

"If people don't have health insurance through their place of work or their significant other, a lot of times they don't know where to go," she says. "And we are the official marketplace on the website here for New Mexicans, where they can do price comparison; they can also access the subsidies that the government offers."

Also new this year, New Mexico insurance regulators have launched an online shopping tool to help people compare 2018 health-care plans. Created by the nonprofit group Consumers' Checkbook, the website compares costs and benefits of plans both on and off the state exchange. On the website of the Office of New Mexico's Superintendent of Insurance and click on 'Health Plan Comparisons.'

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM