“Repeal and replace” has been the Trump administration’s mantra around healthcare reform. Though the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, has not been repealed or replaced, there has been a steady trickle of changes coming from Washington D.C.
With things seeming a bit topsy turvy in the world of Obamacare, from the tax penalty going away to concern that protections for pre-existing conditions may be in danger, do Obamacare basics still apply (and, now that we mention it, does the word Obamacare even apply)?
We’ll provide you with an overview of what you need to know as 2019 open enrollment nears—what’s the same, what’s different and what’s still unknown.
Specifically, we’ll cover:
- Open Enrollment Dates
- Dates State + Federal Exchanges Are Open
What’s it called now: Trumpcare, Obamacare, ACA?
With President Trump in office and making changes that impact the Affordable Care Act, is it still law? Is the ACA still nicknamed Obamacare, or do we now have Trumpcare?
Obamacare is simply a nickname for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (commonly shortened to the Affordable Care Act or ACA), healthcare reform legislation which was passed under President Obama.
Then what is “Trumpcare?”You may have seen “Trumpcare” referenced in an opinion column or newspaper editorial, but it’s not a term that’s been widely embraced as of yet. There is no formal law associated with Trumpcare, however, it generally applies to the Trump administration’s moves to dismantle the ACA.
2019 Open Enrollment + Obamacare?
For the most part, the ACA for 2019 looks like you remember it. But there is one significant change that could impact your decisions when it comes to choosing health insurance coverage:
The tax penalty for going without minimum essential coverage is going away (more on that below).
Here’s where you’ll find a quick refresher on ACA basics and get more information on the penalty repeal and other changes for 2019. Below, ✔ indicates there are no changes from 2018 to 2019 and ✖ indicates an update.
What’s Staying the Same for 2019?
Open enrollment dates ✔
This fall, the annual open enrollment period for individual health insurance plans (i.e., ACA plans) will happen as it has every fall since 2013. Like 2018 open enrollment, you will notice a shorter enrollment period than years past.
You can enroll in 2019 coverage (on or away from a government exchange) from November 1 through December 15, 2018.1
Some state-based exchanges extended their open enrollment periods for 2018. We will update here as we learn of extensions for 2019.
ACA exchanges ✔
The state-based and federally facilitated exchanges (i.e., Health Insurance Marketplace) established under the Affordable Care Act remain in operation for 2019 open enrollment. You can shop for and enroll in individual major medical insurance plans through these government exchanges and also apply for income based subsidies.
Off-exchange individual major medical plans will also be available; as always, those plans are not eligible for ACA subsidies.
Individual mandate ✔
Technically, the individual mandate (formally known as the individual shared responsibility provision) remains in place this year, next year and into the foreseeable future.2 What has changed is the penalty associated with it.
What’s Changing for 2019?
Obamacare tax penalty ✖
Under current law, if you fail to enroll in minimum essential coverage and are not exempt, you could owe a tax penalty for the time you’ve been uninsured.
Legislation passed in December 2017 changes this effective Jan. 1, 2019.3 That’s when the ACA tax penalty will be officially eliminated and you won’t have to pay it if you don’t enroll in minimum essential coverage (this applies whether or not you are exempt from the individual mandate).
What this means, in theory, is that you could have more health insurance coverage options for 2019. Depending on your healthcare needs and what you can afford, you can choose an Obamacare plan or enroll in alternative coverage (e.g., short term health insurance, a hospital plan) instead and not owe a tax penalty. Those with pre-existing conditions may not be eligible for these alternative plans and may want to consider a major medical insurance policy instead. It is important to know that these alternative coverages do not offer the same benefits as major medical.
You’ve found the 2019 open enrollment information you’re looking for. (If you haven’t, you’ll want to reach out to a health insurance producer or a government exchange with questions.) But don’t just sit back and wait for open enrollment to come around.
Now is the time to begin preparations. If you haven’t been to the doctor lately, schedule a wellness exam to see if your healthcare needs are changing (maybe you will need more care or new prescription medications in the year to come).
Start thinking about why you like or dislike your current coverage and what is important to you going into 2019.
Continue to visit healthedeals.com/articles for weekly updates as we prepare for open enrollment.
If you need coverage between now and open enrollment, you could consider a short term plan or consider some other health insurance alternatives. Call the number at the top of your screen to speak with a producer, or use Agent Finder to search for local assistance.
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