While there’s plenty of tension and uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act right now in Washington, the 2017 Marketplace for health insurance created by the bill is already in place and enrolling eligible citizens. Any changes made to the healthcare system will only be implemented in 2018 at the earliest.
If you’ve never purchased insurance on the Marketplace before, the process is fairly simple. You can enroll at HealthCare.gov or call 1.800.318.2596. You’ll be asked a few questions about you and your family, including income and household size, to determine both what options you qualify for in terms of lower-cost or tax-subsidized coverage, all of which will help you choose a plan that’s right for you.
After you choose a plan, you can enroll online and decide how you pay your premiums to your insurance company. If you or members of your family qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), a representative will contact you to enroll. If you have any questions, there’s plenty of live and online help along the way.
If you would like to talk to somebody in person, health insurance "navigators" provided by the nonprofit Palmetto Project are also available in your area. Visit signupsc.palmettoproject.org or call 1-888-998-4646 to schedule an appointment.
The enrollment period ends after Jan. 31, so make sure you are signed up by then so that you are fully insured and can avoid paying a penalty on your income taxes in 2018.