HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today reminded consumers that the open enrollment period for purchasing health insurance coverage for 2016 under the Affordable Care Act is coming to an end.
"Open enrollment runs through January 31. If you do not select a plan by the 31st, you might not have another opportunity to shop via the marketplace until the next open enrollment period," Commissioner Miller said. "I want to stress the importance of this deadline. You are only eligible for subsidies that can offset your out-of-pocket costs if you shop on the federal marketplace."
Commissioner Miller encouraged consumers to shop around and consider the options available before settling on a plan. Coverage purchased before January 31 will begin on March 1. Consumers can shop for plans available through the federal marketplace on www.HealthCare.gov.
"I urge all consumers to not only consider all the plans available in your area but also opportunities for subsidies from the federal government," said Commissioner Miller. "You may qualify for credits that you didn't realize were available."
Commissioner Miller reminded consumers that there are at least four, and often many more, options for coverage available in each geographical rating area. Even consumers who have already selected or renewed coverage are still able to consider the many options available at www.Healthcare.gov and make changes as needed. According to a recent study, plans available in Pennsylvania are ranked fifth lowest nationally in total health insurance costs for plans available through the Affordable Care Act.
"Due to federal requirements, unless you encounter a particular life event, this may be the only time you're able to select coverage for the year," said Commissioner Miller. "If you already selected a plan and you are unsatisfied with your decision or want to explore other options, you may still select a different plan."
She also reminded consumers that under the Affordable Care Act, everyone must have health insurance or they may face a tax penalty from the Internal Revenue Service. The tax penalty for not having health insurance increases in 2016 to $695 or 2.5% of a consumer's annual income, whichever is higher. For many Pennsylvanians, paying this penalty could cost more than purchasing the lowest cost plans available through the federal marketplace. Subsidies are available if you purchase coverage through the federal marketplace at www.HealthCare.gov and can off-set the costs consumers face on a monthly basis through their premiums and in some cases help cover some of their out-of-pocket costs. In 2015, a family of four with an income of approximately $95,000 qualified for a subsidy, so Commissioner Miller strongly encouraged all consumers to explore this option.
"More than 415,000 Pennsylvanians have enrolled in coverage through the federal marketplace," said Commissioner Miller. "Don't miss your opportunity to obtain quality and affordable health coverage for yourself and your family."
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has a variety of resources available to help consumers understand the shopping process. Visit www.insurance.pa.gov/Coverage/Pages/Health.aspx for our printable Shopper's Guide and a video on how to shop for health insurance.
If you have questions on the shopping process, you may contact the department's Consumer Services Bureau at 1-877-881-6388 or online at www.insurance.pa.gov. If you would like in-person assistance with shopping, you can find a registered navigator or licensed insurance agent.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, 717-787-3289
SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department