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What You Need To Know To Enroll In Obamacare For 2018

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

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

It comes as President Donald Trump has made big changes– including ending subsidies to lower out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans. Even if federal lawmakers come through on a fix, Florida insurance rates are locked in for 2018 and are going up in a big way.

Health News Florida’s Abe Aboraya spoke with Anne Packham, the Marketplace Project Director for the Primary Care Access Network in Orange County, about what to expect this season.

When can consumers start enrolling for Obamacare plans this year, and when is the deadline to enroll?

They can begin enrolling November 1, and the deadline is December 15. So it is significantly shorter than last year.

What about the extension in counties with a declaration of disaster after Hurricane Irma?

Yes, counties with an emergency declaration because of Hurricane Irma have until Dec. 31 to enroll.

President Trump has announced an end to subsidies insurance companies get to lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Insurance companies are responding by raising next year’s rates by an average of 45 percent. Who will be hit hardest by those increases?

The people hardest hit are the people who don’t get the subsidies. So people of more moderate income, an individual making more $46,000 per year or a family of four making $100,000 per year. Their premiums may go up as much as 45 percent. Some people who are higher income may be better off buying a plan off the marketplace. Here’s an example. One of the people I was talking to, she’s older, she’s 64, so at the top age level. On the marketplace, it was gonna be $1,400 (per month) next year. About $1,000 (per month) off the exchange. Exactly the same plan.

The Affordable Care Act is still law, but there have been several efforts to repeal it, and several big changes to the law. Are you seeing people who think the law has been overturned?

There’s a lot of confusion. We had people calling us, saying what should I do? Should I enroll for next year? Is this gonna affect my care, like, next week if I’m getting a procedure? What we’re telling people is really the law hasn’t changed, the Affordable Care Act hasn’t been repealed, nothing has changed. We’ll actually have more plans available in Orange County than last year and Central Florida in general. The number of counties with only one [insurance company] has decreased, which is different than nationwide. More competition should help lower costs. That’s a statewide phenomenon, especially here in Central Florida, we’re seeing more options.

For more information on open enrollment, visit Covering Florida or call 877-813-9115.

Health News Florida reporter Abe Aboraya works for WMFE in Orlando. He started writing for newspapers in high school. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe worked as a reporter for the Orlando Business Journal. He comes from a family of health care workers.