Obamacare Open Enrollment Deadline: Last Day to Apply for Jan. 1 Coverage; Healthcare.gov to Encounter Heavy Traffic
The second open enrollment period of the federal HealthCare.gov and state-based health insurance exchanges has its first deadline Monday for consumers seeking coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015.
The second open enrollment period started on Nov. 15 and officially ends on Feb. 15. However, consumers could receive health insurance coverage if they apply by 12 a.m. PST. On the East Coast, consumers have until 3 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 16 to apply or renew their coverage plans.
Ahead of the deadline, Healthcare.gov, the federal health insurance marketplace exchange for 37 states, is expected to receive heavy online traffic and wait time increases for its call centers. According to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the second open enrollment period encountered a "solid start" since November's launch but "there's still much more work to do."
The Obama administration reportedly wants 9.1 million people to have health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for 2015. U.S. Latinos represent the largest minority group to be uninsured. With the ACA, also referred to as Obamacare, the uninsured Latino rate declined as a result of the first open enrollment period.
"The Affordable Care Act appears to be working for millions of Latinos who, as a group, have long faced the nation's highest uninsured rates. These substantial improvements will mean better health and health care for millions of people," said The Commonwealth Fund's Vice President for Survey Research and Evaluation Michelle Doty, noting uninsured rate for Latinos decreased from 36 percent to 23 percent
The Commonwealth Fund noted language barriers have been an issue for Latinos who had sought health insurance. Healthcare.gov and its state-level exchanges do have Spanish-equivalent websites and call centers. CuidadoDeSalud.gov and Spanish-speaking representatives are on hand for assistance with shorter waiting times compared to English-speaking representatives.
"Health insurance from HealthCare.gov and the state-based exchanges are only valid for U.S. citizens living within the country. People without health insurance after the Feb. 15 deadline will be automatically enrolled by their insurance company into their current plan or a plan with similar benefits," wrote Burwell. "Plans change and premiums change. If you do not shop around, you could have a higher premium than if you shopped for a similar plan."
The federal HealthCare.gov and CuidadoDeSalud.gov are available for states without state-level health insurance exchanges. The HHS noted 37 states use the federal marketplace: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Health insurance from HealthCare.gov and the state-based exchanges are only valid for U.S. citizens living within the country. People without health insurance after the Feb. 15 deadline will pay a higher penalty fee for 2015 than the rate set in 2014. For 2015's rates, the penalty is 2 percent of the individual's income or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child, "whichever is more."
"Most consumers, who already have Marketplace insurance and do not take action by the Dec. 15 deadline, will be automatically enrolled by their insurance company into their current plan or a plan with similar benefits," wrote Burwell. "Plans change and premiums change. If you do not shop around, you could have a higher premium than if you shopped for a similar plan."
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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