The ACA allows the federal government to open special enrollment periods as a result of life-changing events, though the Trump administration had rebuffed calls to do so for the pandemic.
When can I sign up?
The new open enrollment window will run through May 15, and coverage will start immediately with 2021 insurance plans.
What kind of financial assistance is there?
On the ACA exchange, insurance plans are subsidized to be affordable for people who expect in 2021 to make less than 400% of the poverty level—as long as they make at least the poverty level. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, most of the Americans who currently are eligible for a free “bronze” level plan on the ACA exchange after subsidies are applied reside in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Texas. Georgia has one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation.
There is no assistance for Georgians who make less than 100% of the poverty level and who don’t meet the Georgia Medicaid criteria because the state has not expanded insurance to cover most poor adults.
For those adults making less than 400% of the federal poverty level that the Kaiser Family Foundation was referring to, those bronze plans would be free to purchase, but they could have steep deductibles. The Foundation says, however, that two-thirds of those people could also buy a “silver” plan with more affordable out-of-pocket costs.
The federal poverty level this year is $12,760 for an individual. For a family of four, 400% of the federal poverty level is $104,000.
What will be the effects?
Finance experts expect that the new open enrollment period will have impact, that people will enroll, and that patients who’ve avoided medical care they need that isn’t coronavirus-related will start getting care. An analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, Jennifer Barr, said in a statement recently that the order “will benefit non-profit hospitals by facilitating health insurance coverage, reducing the number of uninsured or underinsured patients, and promote patient volume recovery which remains below pre-pandemic levels.”
RESOURCES FOR ENROLLING
Healthcare.gov is the main federal website for enrolling in the ACA. If you don’t have internet you can enroll on the phone, at 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325). CuidadodeSalud.gov is the Spanish-language version.
Insure Georgia is a Macon-based nonprofit organization that works independently to help Georgians sign up. Their website is InsureGA.org and their phone number is 1-866-988-8246.
HealthSherpa.com is a private website that does a lot of the things that the federal website does, allowing you to sign up after comparing plans. The phone number for HealthSherpa.com is 1-855.772.2663.