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ACA Not Dead Yet: 2018 Enrollment Period Open Through December 15

by | Nov 3, 2017 | Healthcare

The 2018 enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, kicked off earlier this week.  Democrats across the nation are crying out that Donald Trump sabotaged the entire law by shortening the window, cutting funding, and signing executive orders just to make premiums skyrocket.

There’s no denying that the ACA has problems, though exactly what those issues are and who’s to blame depends mainly on where you sit: left, right, or somewhere in the middle. Regardless, the clock is ticking. Liberals might do better spending the next six weeks helping themselves and others get signed up rather than pointing fingers and complaining about things they can’t change, real or imagined.

The Shortened Enrollment Isn’t New

No one should be caught off guard by this shortened enrollment period; it was announced months ago. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued their final rule to increase choices and encourage stability in the health insurance market – which included the shorter sign-up period – back in April. The objective was to align Medicare more closely with the private market and get people covered before the beginning of the new year.

In mid-October, the president announced that he was cutting the outreach and education budget for Obamacare by 90%, from $100 million to $10 million. A campaign recently launched by former Obamacare officials, called Get America Covered, projects that the administration’s “drastic cuts” could result in a minimum of 1.1 million fewer enrollees for 2018. Former President Barack Obama took to Twitter to spread the word and help make up for the potential loss by posting a little pep talk:

Save the Pep Talk for Next Year

President Trump’s executive order from a couple of weeks ago, despite much liberal moaning to the contrary, will not affect 2018 premiums. It won’t cause insurers to leave the marketplace, either. The decisions of who would offer what plans on the exchange and for how much were already made; the filing deadline for insurers was September 27. Earlier in the year, CMS provided Key Dates for 2017  to meet the law’s requirements for the 2018 plan.  Insurance companies opt in or out based on their bottom line.  Many could not, or would not, be able to sustain the losses associated with Obamacare – especially with no relief in sight.  It is true that if no repeal and replace makes it through Congress, the premiums for 2019 will likely rise. Let’s hope our lawmakers get it together and figure it out before that happens.

Assistance is Available

The Hill published an article Tuesday titled “Five Things to Know as ObamaCare Enrollment Begins.” It’s a good summary, and offers up answers for those with questions about enrollment:

  • The enrollment period is shorter.
  • Subsidies are still available.
  • There is still a fine for not filing.
  • Some people could have limited options.
  • There is help for people.

For further enrollment help, assistance is available at localhelp.healthcare.gov, or over the phone at (800) 318-2596. President Trump did make some changes, but they’re nowhere near his ultimate goal of repealing and replacing Obamacare. For now, the Affordable Care Act is still the law of the land. That may or may not change in the near future, but in the meantime, there are only six weeks to get covered – don’t waste them whining about Trump.

Read More From Teresa J. Read, CPA

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