open enrollment

Health insurance a la carte?

Lee Nathans, like insurance brokers in many states, expects to be crazy busy for the next several weeks, fielding calls from “people who are not going to be happy.”

Open enrollment for people who buy their own health insurance starts Wednesday and ends Dec. 15. That means there are only 45 days to shop for coverage. The shorter enrollment period this year is just one of the changes to the process for buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Here are five important factors to keep in mind if you plan to sign up for ACA coverage for 2018.

1. The health law has not been repealed.

Despite the efforts of President Trump and the Republican-led Congress, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Latinos, who just a year ago were highly sought customers for the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace plans may not get the same hard sell this year.

healthcare.gov

Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, begins in less than a week.

Daylina Miller/Health News Florida

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell visited Tampa on Tuesday to remind Floridians they’re in the final days to enroll in the federal marketplace for health insurance.

healthcare.gov

With one month left in the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act Marketplace for insurance that starts Jan. 1, insurance navigators are encouraging people to examine their options.

Open enrollment is underway for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. 

Seniors who like their Medicare choice this year, shouldn't assume it will be the same next year.

A doctor in your network this year could be out of network next year. The same goes for a prescription drug that is covered this year.

Seniors who aren't comparison shopping during Medicare open enrollment, could see their costs increase.

Colleen Krepstekies with the AARP says her agency can connect seniors to organizations that can help them navigate the enrollment process.

Healthcare.gov

With sign-up season starting in less than two weeks, the Obama administration indicated on Monday that some long-awaited upgrades to the government's health insurance website could take more time before they're customer-ready.

HealthCare.gov

Several million Americans hit with new federal fines for going without health insurance are getting a second chance to sign up, and that could ease the sting of rising penalties for being uninsured.

But as the enrollment window reopened on Sunday in Florida and the 36 other states that use the federal health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov, it’s unclear how many know about the time-limited opportunity, let alone will take advantage of it.

Ahead of the Sunday deadline to sign up for insurance on HealthCare.gov, the latest enrollment numbers show that close to 1.4 million people in Florida have signed up. That's more than any other state that uses the federal marketplace.

Nearly 2.5M In FL, 36 Other States Pick Plans on HealthCare.gov

Dec 17, 2014

More than 1 million people selected a health plan during the fourth week of the health law’s open enrollment and nearly 2.5 million have done so since it began Nov. 15, federal officials said Tuesday.

“And this was before an extremely busy weekend,” said Andy Slavitt, principal deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the federal online marketplace used by 37 states.

Tuesday’s report did not include enrollment for the final three days before the Dec. 15 deadline for people to enroll if they want coverage to begin Jan. 1.

USF Magazine

It's been two weeks since HealthCare.gov opened for a second year of business. And a leader in Florida's signup efforts says about half who have visited so far are return customers.

Those renewing their coverage seem most interested in the kind of medical coverage they can get and are not just selecting the same policies, Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids & Families at the University of South Florida, said Wednesday. 

She says cost of premiums seems to come second.

Healthcare.gov

  More than 200,000 Floridians are projected to sign up for health insurance during the upcoming Affordable Care Act enrollment period beginning November 15th, the Miami Herald reports.

The projection, compiled by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, would raise Florida's total enrollment to about 1,07 million, the Herald reports.

Streamlined Marketplace Site Unveiled

Oct 9, 2014
Healthcare.gov

Consumers using the federal healthcare.gov website when open enrollment begins next month should expect a faster website with a shorter application form and features making it easier to use on mobile devices, Obama administration officials said Wednesday.

In a briefing with reporters, they showed off a live version of the updated site and said it has already been used to enroll about 20,000 people.

Still, they did not promise that the website will be glitch-free when it opens for purchases on Nov. 15.

.S. Department of Health and Human Services

As of Nov. 1, I will be on Medicare, which means I have to enroll this month. I should have plenty of company, since open enrollment for 2015 begins Oct. 15.

As a reporter and editor on the health-care beat, I’ve been explaining Medicare to the public since 1976. So people assume that I understand it thoroughly.  

But writing about Medicare is one thing; living it is another. For advice, I called Barbara Katz, a former reporter and lawyer who recently moved to Longboat Key from another state.  She enrolled in Medicare and a supplemental plan six years ago.

Carol Gentry / WUSF

Al Lopez Park in Tampa is normally an oasis of serenity on a Monday. But on the last day of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the community center was crowded, noisy and stressful. Hundreds of procrastinators came seeking help from navigators.

It was a microcosm of the nation, as 3 million Americans visited the HealthCare.gov website and another 1 million used the call-center line on the last official day to sign up for a 2014 health plan.

Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health News

The “Get Covered, America” enrollment effort that mimics the Obama campaign method of door-knocking is proving labor-intensive and mostly ineffective, the New York Times

Insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage -- HMOs or other managed-care plans -- often adjust their networks from year-to-year. But as the Tampa Tribune reports, some major changes for have many Tampa Bay area seniors double-checking their plans during the last couple of weeks of open enrollment.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

It's open enrollment season for Medicare, the time when beneficiaries can switch plans if they want. Plenty of private insurance companies are competing to enroll them in Medicare Advantage plans.

If you have Medicare, or you're getting close to age 65, your mailbox is likely overflowing with offers. The ads are coming at you on TV, too. 

Florida has plenty of choices when it comes to Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug coverage from private companies -- in fact, more than most places in the nation and more than some beneficiaries can cope with, as the Orlando Sentinel reports, citing Kaiser Family Foundation research.

Federal health officials have clarified the deadline people must meet under the individual mandate to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the Washington Post reports. Open enrollment on the new health insurance Marketplace runs through March 31, and so long as people buy a health plan by then, they won’t face a tax penalty for not having health insurance. It often takes a little time for coverage to kick in once someone enrolls in a plan. 

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Open enrollment for people who have Medicare plans started this week. It's the time when all people with Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older and the disabled, can change their private Medicare Advantage plan or prescription-drug coverage.

Health News Florida's Lottie Watts talked with Kathy Winans, the regional vice president for United Health Care Medicare plans, about this year's open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. 

Today, Oct. 15, is the first day of open enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries to choose their drug plan and HMO-style Medicare Advantage plan for 2014.  They can save money if they do some research, but if they don't, most will pay more this year. 

Researchers on Medicare enrollment predict that millions of beneficiaries will remain in their current plan rather than hassle with doing the research to see what has changed. And that would be a mistake, since so many plans are switching the drugs they cover or the premiums and co-pays they charge.

Given all the political fighting over the Affordable Care Act's online Marketplaces, many Americans likely think everyone will be shopping on them. In reality, most Americans won't be. The marketplaces are only for individuals who can't get (or can't afford) coverage through their employer. Small businesses will have their own Marketplace for shopping.

Medicare beneficiaries won't be on the new Marketplace. They have a separate system for enrolling in Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans -- the same system they've been using for years.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

We asked our readers to tell us what they thought was confusing about the Affordable Care Act, and you called, e-mailed and Facebooked us with questions. This week on Florida Matters, WUSF’s Craig Kopp sits down with attorney Linda Fleming of Carlton Fields, Julian Lago with the National Association of Health Underwriters and Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry to help answer some of those questions. 

The show airs tonight at 6:30 p.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM. You can listen to the live stream online by clicking on the “Listen Live” button in the top left corner of this page. A podcast of the half-hour show will be available on the Florida Matters website

Humana: Help Wanted, About 170 People

May 9, 2013

Humana is adding full time marketing services positions to both its Miramar and Tampa locations. It's looking to hire 170 people in Tampa Bay.

Humana's call center in East Tampa is looking to fill telesales positions just in time for the annual Medicare open enrollment period coming up in October.

Humana spokeswoman Nancy Hanewinckel said the open enrollment period, when seniors are shopping around for their plans for the next year, means lots of people calling in.

In a week or two, seniors enrolled in certain Medicare health plans and drug plans will get a letter from the federal government. It is not good news.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) letter will say their plan is substandard, "rated 'poor' or 'below average' for at least the last three years."