HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today reminded consumers that open enrollment continues for 2017 health insurance plans available through the federal health insurance marketplace at www.Healthcare.gov. As of December 31, 2016, more than 413,000 Pennsylvanians have enrolled in plans for 2017, slightly ahead of Pennsylvania's 2016 enrollment at this point last year.
"Health insurance plans available through the federal marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act are an important option for Pennsylvania consumers," said Commissioner Miller. "These plans provide quality coverage and access to preventive services at no extra cost – a key consumer protection established by the ACA that allows consumers to better manage their health and identify potential issues at an early stage."
Consumers who need health insurance for 2017 can still enroll in plans through January 31, 2017. Plans purchased on or before January 15 will take effect on February 1, and plans purchased from January 16 through the end of open enrollment will begin on March 1.
Although there is a penalty for going without health insurance, if you are uncovered for only one or two months, you do not have to pay the penalty for those months as long as you have coverage beginning in March. However, if you go without health insurance for three months or more, you may be subject to a penalty.
"If you haven't enrolled at this point and you still need health insurance, I strongly urge you to consider one of these plans," said Commissioner Miller. "Although the future of the Affordable Care Act is unclear, it is important that you and your family prioritize your health and wellness by staying covered and protected."
Health insurance plans for 2017 may be purchased online through www.Healthcare.gov or directly from a licensed insurance company. Plans sold on the federal marketplace meet the coverage standards and consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act, which include coverage for pre-existing conditions, free preventive care, and coverage for other essential health benefits. If you buy directly from an insurance company, make sure that the coverage is ACA-compliant.
Commissioner Miller also reminded consumers of resources available to help ease the shopping process. A printable shopper's guide and videos in English and Spanish are available to help consumers looking for coverage.
In addition to these resources, the department recently announced a partnership with Consumers' Checkbook on a website that allows consumers to compare ACA-compliant on- and off-exchange plans available in their area. In some areas, consumers may find that off-exchange plans may be less expensive than on-exchange options; however, only on-exchange plans are eligible for financial assistance. The plan comparison tool, which is available at https://pa.checkbookhealth.org, allows consumers to enter personal data to compare estimated yearly out-of-pocket costs, overall quality of plans, and doctor and prescription drug availability.
Help is also available in-person for consumers who need assistance understanding their options. Licensed insurance agents are able to help you find the best plan for your needs and navigators are available to help you understand your options at no cost. Licensed agents can be found here and navigators in your area can be found here.
For more information on health insurance or to contact the Insurance Department's Bureau of Consumer Services, visit www.insurance.pa.gov or call 1-877-881-6388.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ali Fogarty - 717-787-3289
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance