HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today reminded consumers that Open Enrollment for 2017 health insurance coverage available through the Affordable Care Act is currently underway and encouraged consumers to explore options for health insurance coverage through the federal marketplace at www.Healthcare.gov.
"While newly elected officials in Washington have stated they may repeal the Affordable Care Act in the future, there is currently no plan in place to alter our existing health care system," said Commissioner Miller. "Though potential changes may be coming, enrolling now will help ensure the health of you and your family is protected in the short and long term."
Health insurance plans for 2017 can be purchased online through www.Healthcare.gov. 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.
Consumers purchasing from the federal marketplace may be eligible for financial assistance to pay premiums and, in some cases, other out-of-pocket costs like co-pays and deductibles. For 2016, 78 percent of Pennsylvanians who purchased insurance through the federal marketplace received subsidies to lower monthly premium costs. The federal Department of Health and Human Services estimates that for 2017, 75 percent of returning marketplace policyholders will be able to find a plan for less than $100 per month after receiving a subsidy. However, consumers need to be aware that financial assistance is only available if you purchase an ACA-compliant plan from the federal marketplace.
Affordable Care Act compliant health insurance plans are also sold off the federal marketplace. While these plans are not eligible for financial assistance, they may be less expensive than some on-marketplace options and still provide the same coverage and protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act. For consumers with incomes too high to qualify for subsidies, these off-marketplace plans, sold by agents or directly by companies, may be a more affordable option in some areas of the state. However, Commissioner Miller urged consumers to do research and understand what they are purchasing when shopping off-marketplace. In some cases, plans sold off-marketplace may offer a more limited scope of benefits and may not be ACA-compliant.
"Limited benefit plans may be presented as ACA-compliant, but consumers who purchase these plans may be subject to a tax penalty and many unexpected medical costs," said Commissioner Miller. "These plans do not offer full coverage and can come with additional costs for basic preventive care services, so be extremely diligent when shopping to ensure that you are actually buying an ACA-compliant product. Only ACA-compliant products purchased through the federal marketplace will be eligible for financial assistance."
Commissioner Miller urged Pennsylvanians to focus on managing their everyday health now, rather than waiting to see what changes may be made, due to the importance of staying covered in the event of a lengthy transition period.
"We can never know what will happen in the future, and that is why it is imperative that you ensure that you have health insurance," said Commissioner Miller. "Enrolling in a plan now guarantees that you will have coverage while decisions are being made. I urge all consumers to protect themselves and their families by investing in their health."
Coverage purchased on or before December 15 will take effect January 1; however, consumers whose 2016 plans will be discontinued in 2017 have until December 31 to select a plan other than the new option they were assigned to for coverage to still begin January 1. For more information on plans available in Pennsylvania, visit www.Healthcare.gov.
Help is available 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 and navigators in your area can be found here.
Under the Affordable Care Act, more than one million Pennsylvanians have access to quality health care coverage, with approximately 412,000 people currently purchasing coverage through the federal marketplace and 678,000 people enrolled under the Medicaid expansion.
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
SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department