HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today reminded Pennsylvania consumers that the open enrollment period for 2017 health insurance coverage available through the federal marketplace at www.Healthcare.gov closes at 11:59 p.m. on January 31. More than 413,000 Pennsylvanians are currently enrolled in plans for 2017.
"There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act, but it is still extremely important that you purchase health insurance if you or your family is in need of coverage," said Commissioner Miller. "As of now, we do not know if or when changes will be made to the Affordable Care Act. Purchasing coverage will ensure that you and your family are protected as decisions are being made."
Plans purchased through the close of open enrollment on January 31 will take effect on March 1. If you have coverage effective March 1, you will not be subject to the penalty for not having health insurance coverage. However, if you choose not to enroll and go uninsured for three months or longer, you may be subject to a penalty.
Unless you have a life event like moving or loss of a job, among others, you will not qualify for a special enrollment period outside of open enrollment. The open enrollment period is the only time that you will be able to enroll in ACA-compliant health insurance for 2017 through the federal marketplace at www.Healthcare.gov. Plans purchased outside of this period may not meet the coverage requirements established by the ACA and could lead to tax penalties and medical bills for routine, preventive, and emergency services.
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.
"I strongly urge consumers to take great care when shopping for health insurance. Some websites and plans contain misleading information and may claim to offer ACA-compliant coverage when they are actually selling limited benefit plans," said Commissioner Miller. "If you are not shopping at www.Healthcare.gov, make sure to ask questions and ensure that you are buying an ACA-compliant plan that will provide a 1095-B tax form that shows that you and your family had health insurance that met minimum essential coverage requirements."
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 Insurance Department