10:08 PM

Understanding insurance under the Affordable Care Act


Open enrollment for Obamacare plans is open and there are changes that could affect how people buy insurance.

Story by Ariel Peele | Graphics by Mai Linh Nguyen 

“Insurers like things to be predictable,” said health care management professor Jeffrey Helton, Ph.D. The same is true for people shopping for insurance plans.

The Affordable Care Act allows for people to sign up for insurance or change their current plan if they don’t have employer-sponsored health care.

Earlier this year, Senate Republicans made several attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. As of today, it is still law.

A report published in October by the Department of Health and Human Services indicates 80 percent of Obamacare enrollees will be able to find plans for $75 or less a month because of subsidies for the 2018 plan year. Helton says some people can expect higher premiums, as much as 20 percent, through the state health insurance exchange Connect for Health Colorado. That’s primarily because of uncertainty in the market.

“The Western Slope has Rocky Mountain Health Plans, which is now affiliated with UnitedHealthcare. Some of the big companies are getting out of the exchanges because of unpredictability … you need a mix of healthy people and sick people to make the system work,” said Helton.

Even after all the political discussions and repeal attempts this year, Helton says the biggest difference for people who need to purchase insurance under Obamacare is the time period. It is shorter this year and the Trump administration isn’t putting out as much information about plans. “We’ve been doing this for four years, going into a fifth year, so there is less enthusiasm,” said Helton.

If you already have an Obamacare insurance plan and you skip enrollment, you'll be automatically re-enrolled in that same plan for 2018 if it's still available. The deadline for Colorado is Dec. 15 in order to receive coverage starting Jan. 1.

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