Writing may not be the riskiest job for your health—granted backaches and carpal tunnel from days spent hunched over your laptop are no joke—but health problems can strike anyone at any time. While the current administration and congressional leaders are vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is still in effect and open enrollment has started. Navigating the ever-shifting grounds of healthcare in America can be daunting, so here are some dates and information to help you.
When to Enroll
Open enrollment for health insurance starting January 2018 began on November 1 and ends on December 15.
Medicare open enrollment started on October 15 and closes on December 7.
This is a shorter enrollment period than previous years where enrollment went through the end of January, so make sure that you get your plan in time. States do have the option to keep enrollment in the state exchanges open longer. New York and California are keeping enrollment on state exchanges open until January 31. Also note that it has been reported that the Department of Health and Human Services is planning to shut down healthcare.gov for 12 hours from midnight to noon on every Sunday until December 10.
What Plan to Get
There are three basic levels—Bronze, Silver, and Gold. You should check out all three levels in your market for differences in both cost and what they cover. Check out what plans are available in your zip code here.
If you follow the news, you’ve heard about price fluctuations and the Trump administration cutting certain subsidies. Because of the cuts, experts are expecting that premiums for Silver plans will go up as much as 37%, although this varies by state with some states seeing skyrocketing premiums and others only modest increases. On the other hand, in some areas the better quality Gold plans are getting cheaper, sometimes even cheaper than Silver plans in the same market. The Trump administration has also allowed the creation of “expanded Bronze” plans that have lower premiums but much higher deductibles.
Where to Enroll
If you don’t have healthcare provided by an employer, you can still enroll through either healthcare.gov or your state marketplace if you are in one of the fifteen states that have their own marketplace. Those states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington.
Additionally, you can enroll through third-party websites. One site that authors may want to check out is the Freelancers Union, which offers plans and has a “Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing the Best Plan for You.” Authors Guild members are invited to join a Freelancers Union webinar and live Q&A on November 8 to learn more about their healthcare options.
You can also get help applying for health insurance through healthcare.gov or through a “navigator” agency. Here’s a list of navigator agencies for New York state.
So remember that the ACA is still in effect, which means that all U.S. citizens are required to carry health insurance.
The Authors Guild hopes to offer affordable health insurance to our members in the not-too-distant future. But for now, we hope this post will help you navigate enrollment in the current healthcare landscape.