DES MOINES — The Affordable Care Act’s annual Open Enrollment period is days away and new rules have made the program stronger than ever. Last year, a record number of people enrolled in healthcare coverage through the Marketplace. In IA, more than 9 in 10 people that got their insurance on the Marketplace were eligible for a monthly subsidy that helps them pay for the plan they selected. New rules for this year’s Open Enrollment have strengthened the program even more so that thousands of families in Iowa will likely qualify to get coverage as well. Open Enrollment begins on November 1, 2022 and will run until January 15, 2023.
Recently, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a record amount of grant funding to organizations that provide free help to consumers requiring health coverage enrollment assistance. For Iowa, First Choice Services was awarded $295,350 to continue and expand their IA Navigator program. The program provides free assistance to people finding and selecting health care options through the Marketplace, Medicaid and CHIP. They can assist with enrollment applications and help consumers apply for financial assistance through HealthCare.gov. IA Navigator can assist people over the phone and have staff that speak both English and Spanish in addition to offering translation services.
“Most people will be able to qualify for substantially lower costs this year if they get their insurance on the Marketplace,” said Jeremy Smith, program director for IA Navigator. “We are really urging people to look at the new plans and prices that are being released this year. In a lot of cases, the plans are more affordable than we have ever seen. Even if you have looked into insurance on the Marketplace in past years and were not very happy, you should definitely look into it again this year.” Smith says getting help signing up is important, as many people are overwhelmed by the options or may not realize how to shop for affordable health coverage.
Consumers who come back to the Health Insurance Marketplace this year can expect to see some very important updates and expansions. New rules will expand eligibility to those that had previously been blocked from getting the coverage because they had an unaffordable offer of insurance through an employer. This fix to the “Family Glitch” will expand eligibility to thousands of families. Additionally, the signing of the Inflation Reduction Act secured enhanced subsidies and locked in lower prices for Marketplace plans for three more years. It also kept in place that higher income earners can continue to enroll in subsidized coverage as well.
It is important to pay attention to Open Enrollment deadlines. For January 1st coverage, sign up must be completed by December 15th. Open Enrollment will completely end on January 15th. People who already have a plan and need to re-enroll are encouraged to double-check the network and prescription drug coverage for any changes, and to update their information in case they qualify for any additional cost-savings. For free assistance the IA Navigator program is available by calling 515-978-9570 or visiting www.ACANavigator.com.