HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 13, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today reminded consumers of the approaching deadline to enroll in health insurance effective January 1, 2017 that is available through the Affordable Care Act. In order to have coverage effective at the beginning of the year, consumers must enroll in a plan on or before December 15.
"When enrolling in a plan, it is important that you try to avoid having a lapse in your coverage," said Commissioner Miller. "Enrolling in a plan before the December 15 deadline ensures that you will have coverage beginning January 1 and can have peace of mind that your health is protected going into the new year."
Health insurance plans for 2017 can 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.
Although there is uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act, the law is still in place and Commissioner Miller strongly encourages Pennsylvanians who currently receive insurance through the federal marketplace or consumers who are shopping for the first time to ensure that they enroll in coverage prior to the December 15 deadline.
"While changes may come in the future, it is important that all Pennsylvanians who need health insurance enroll in a plan that meets their needs," said Commissioner Miller. "Prioritizing your health and wellness by enrolling in coverage allows you to protect yourself in case of an accident and ensures that you can access the benefits included in the Affordable Care Act."
Commissioner Miller also reminded consumers of the various resources available to help those who are shopping for health insurance make an informed decision.
Last year, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department released a printable shopper's guide and video designed to help consumers understand what they need to consider when selecting a plan. This video is now also available in Spanish.
The Insurance Department also recently announced a partnership with Consumers' Checkbook on a website that allows consumers to compare 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.
"Selecting a health insurance plan for you or your family is a big decision, and there are many factors that must be weighed in order to pick a plan that best meets your needs," said Commissioner Miller. "I strongly encourage all consumers to take advantage of the resources made available by my department when making this important decision."
If a consumer needs in-person assistance with selecting a plan, help is available. 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 and navigators in your area can be found here.
Open enrollment for 2017 health insurance coverage continues through January 31, 2017. Coverage purchased on or before December 15 will take effect January 1.
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