Shortened ACA Open Enrollment Begins Wednesday
Carol McCarthy | Oct 31, 2017 AT 5:19 am
BISMARCK, N.D.- The open-enrollment period to purchase health insurance on the federal marketplace begins Wednesday. Folks in South Dakota can go to healthcare.gov or get local help at getcoveredsouthdakota.org, which includes scheduling in-person meetings for help signing up.
Shelly Ten Napel, chief executive director of the Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas, says because the enrollment period has been cut from three months to 45 days, people should sign up as soon as they can.
"There's been a trend of kind of waiting until that last week, which we all do, wait until the deadline," she says. "But given the fewer resources that are out there to help people enroll and the shorter timeframe in which those fewer people have to enroll, the same number of individuals, I think it will be really important to get out the word about signing up early."
Open enrollment ends December 15. The federal government has cut the marketing budget for insurance exchanges and also the budget for navigators - individuals who help people find plans. The Trump administration has decided to end cost-sharing payments to insurance companies as well. However, financial assistance such as tax credits is still available for North Dakotans.
Ten Napel says choices for rural North Dakotans can be more complicated and so in-person help from counselors across the state - which is a free service - may be the best way to get advice.
"It's nice too to just have someone in your local community who understands your local health-care environment, whereas the call-in center is a little bit more national in scope," she adds.
Last year more than 21,000 North Dakotans enrolled through the marketplace. Ten Napel says 85 percent of people who enrolled through the marketplace last year received premium subsidies to lower the cost of coverage.