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Health Care Marketplace to Open Wednesday

Multiple health insurance sign-up events are planned during the 45-day enrollment period. (AZ PIRG Education Fund)
Multiple health insurance sign-up events are planned during the 45-day enrollment period. (AZ PIRG Education Fund)
October 30, 2017

PHOENIX – The annual enrollment period for the federal health insurance marketplace – Healthcare.gov – starts Wednesday.

It lasts until Dec. 15, and to get help you can go to CoverAZ.org/connector.

There you can make a free appointment with a navigator who will help you find out if your children qualify for KidsCare, or if you meet the requirements for Medicaid, known as AHCCCS in Arizona, or for a subsidy to buy insurance on the individual market.

Marcus Johnson is director of state health policy and advocacy at Vitalyst, part of CoverAZ, a statewide coalition of groups dedicated to helping people get signed up for health insurance. He says 140,000 Arizonans currently buy insurance on the marketplace, but many more are eligible for help paying the premiums.

"Some estimates that we've seen suggest that over 400,000 Arizonans might qualify for financial assistance to go onto the marketplace,” he states. “So it's really important that each of us try to at least see what options we might qualify for, for health insurance coverage."

All Arizona counties have a single insurer offering a variety of plans on the marketplace.

Blue Cross Blue Shield serves all counties except Maricopa and Pima, where Ambetter Health Net policies are sold.

Recently, President Donald Trump canceled what are known as cost-sharing reduction payments to the insurers, which are a reimbursement for the lower rates they are required to offer low-income residents.

Johnson says this will not translate into big premium increases this year.

"Fortunately, in Arizona the insurance companies anticipated that decision and they actually built that into the price of their insurance plans on the marketplace for this year, so Arizonans will not see a significant change in the cost of their insurance on the marketplace this year," he states.

Republicans in Congress have tried and failed three times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so it remains in effect.

The Trump administration cut the enrollment period from 90 days to 45, and slashed the marketing budget by 90 percent.

As a result, navigators are encouraging people to spread the word about the enrollment period via their social media networks.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ