ALLENTOWN, Pa., Nov. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today reminded consumers that the open enrollment period for 2016 health insurance coverage is underway.
Speaking at the Neighborhood Health Centers of the Lehigh Valley in Allentown, Commissioner Miller encouraged consumers to shop around and consider the options made available to them by the federal government before settling on a plan. Consumers can shop for plans available through the federal marketplace on www.HealthCare.gov.
Open enrollment for 2016 health insurance coverage began on November 1 and runs through January 31. In order to avoid a lapse in current coverage and have a plan effective January 1, the federal government requires that consumers must purchase a plan by December 15. Consumers can visit www.HealthCare.gov to view and compare options available in their geographic area.
"Obtaining health insurance coverage is an extremely important step in protecting the well-being of you and your family, and thanks to the federal marketplace established by Affordable Care Act, finding and purchasing coverage is much easier," said Commissioner Miller. "Illness and injury can come on unexpectedly, so it's important to be prepared so you will not have to worry about financial hardships amidst a health crisis."
Commissioner Miller reminded consumers that there are many options for coverage available in each geographical rating area.
"Open enrollment is your time to explore the options available to you. 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. "Because of this, I strongly recommend exploring all options available to ensure that you are getting the best plan for your needs and your money."
She also reminded consumers that under the Affordable Care Act, everyone who can afford health insurance must purchase coverage 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. 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 encouraged all consumers to explore this option.
"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 was joined by Patrick Keenan, consumer engagement manager for Pennsylvania Health Access Network, Melissa Craig, executive director of the health center, and consumers Leo Venn and Eddie Torres who shared their experiences with obtaining coverage through the federal marketplace.
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.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, 717-787-3289
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Insurance