Office of Commonwealth Libraries
Thursday, November 16, 2017
Answering Your Community’s Health Insurance Questions
Due to federal outreach and advertising budget cuts, plus a six-week reduction in the open enrollment period for health insurance, many people are confused about how to shop for health insurance plans.
1. The enrollment period started November 1 and ends on December 15. (In prior years, the enrollment period lasted until January 31.)
2. Consumers can find free enrollment help at https://localhelp.healthcare.gov.
3. Consumers who know they are eligible for financial assistance can shop on the exchange at https://www.healthcare.gov. (Remember: the site will not be available during open enrollment from midnight until 12 p.m. on every Sunday except December 10.)
4. Consumers’ Checkbook, a plan comparison tool that was released by the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance last year, now displays plans for 2018. It allows shoppers to compare on- and off-exchange plans using a variety of factors, including monthly premium and estimated yearly cost. The plan comparison tool is also valuable for those who do not qualify for financial assistance and could be affected by the rate increases necessitated by the Trump Administration’s decision to end payments for cost-sharing reductions.
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Insurance Department Makes Open Enrollment Promotional Information Available to Public to Help Consumers
Harrisburg, PA - Acting Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman today made available to the public the promotional materials, including printed information, videos, and video commercials promoting the open enrollment period for individuals to buy health care plans through the Affordable Care Act.
“Governor Wolf has directed that information to help consumers understand how to find the best health plan for them, and to sign up during the open enrollment period, be made as widely available as possible to help the most consumers,” Altman said. “By providing our materials to the public, I hope consumer groups, health care organizations, and individuals can use this information to make sure anyone who needs health insurance can find the best plan and sign up for coverage.”
Altman noted the Insurance Department launched a media campaign, other state agencies are distributing this information to the people they serve, legislators are also using this information to benefit their constituents, and both health care groups and insurers are providing this information to their customers.
The Insurance Department’s 2018 ACA resources page includes open enrollment printed marketing materials. Also on this page are department-produced “how to” videos on buying and using health insurance. The Insurance Department’s outreach campaign includes two 15-second video ads, one running now, and the other that will run from December 1 through 15, as well as a 30-second ad. (Please note: all video links require Adobe Flash version 10 or greater.)
Please note that the enrollment period is shorter this year, running through December 15.
“On our resources page, consumers can find information on where to find the plans available in their area, and how much these plans cost,” Altman said. “Because of changes by the federal government, it’s especially important for consumers to shop around this year, as they may find plans that have lower premiums or lower total out-of-pocket costs than their current plan.”