Obamacare is Not Dead! What Washington State Residents Need to Know About Obamacare for 2018
In Washington, open enrollment for 2018 health insurance plans begins November 1, 2017 and ends January 15, 2018.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has not been repealed. You are still required to comply with the ACA and you are still entitled to its benefits.
This website provides information about getting health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including:
- whether or not you must get health insurance
- what the available plans cover
- how much coverage will cost
- how to sign up for a plan
- how to get help if you need it.
To begin, keep in mind these key points about health insurance in Washington:
1. You are legally required to have health insurance unless you qualify for an exemption.
The Affordable Care Act requires you to enroll in a health insurance plan unless you qualify for an exemption from the law. You must report whether you have coverage -- or whether you are exempt -- when you file your taxes in April.
To learn whether your current health plan satisfies the requirements of the Affordable Care Act or to find out whether you qualify for an exemption, see Do I Need to Get Obamacare in Washington?
2. Open enrollment for 2018 health insurance plans runs from November 1, 2017 to January 15, 2018.
For 2018 health plans, Minnesota open enrollment runs from November 1, 2017 through January 15, 2018. That's about one month longer than the federal open enrollment period.
During open enrollment, you may use the website Washington Healthplanfinder to choose your health insurance plan, apply for cost-saving subsidies, and get other help you need.
To get coverage beginning January 1, you must enroll by the end of the day on Friday, December 15.
If you are currently uninsured, you can use the state marketplace to compare plans and enroll in a plan that meets your needs.
If you already have health insurance, you will be automatically re-enrolled in your existing plan if it is still available. Even if you can continue in the plan you have now, however, open enrollment provides an opportunity to review your coverage, compare plans, and switch to a new one if you find a better option.
To learn more about enrollment, see How To Sign Up for Obamacare in Washington.
3. Tax credits are still available to save you money.
Many people who sign up for insurance at the Washington exchange will be eligible for cost savings. For 2018 health insurance plans, savings are available in the form of tax credits to help you lower your premiums.
In addition, if your income is very low, you may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid in Washington.
For more information, see Ways to Save Money on Obamacare in Washington.
4. Trump's cancellation of subsidies for insurers may not hit your pocketbook in 2018.
On October 12, 2017, the Trump administration ended subsidies for insurers called "cost-sharing reductions." These payments to insurance companies allowed them to reduce deductibles and co-payments for Americans with incomes between 100% and 250% of the federal poverty level.
In the long run, this decision could destabilize the Affordable Care Act's insurance marketplaces. For 2018 coverage, however, many people's pocketbooks may escape direct effects because Washington Healthplanfinder tax credits will increase to cover the damages.
If you do NOT qualify for tax credits through Washington Healthplanfinder, you may get a better deal by purchasing an insurance plan directly from an insurance company. Be sure to compare the costs of plans available to you through Washington Healthplanfinder to those available directly from insurers in your area.
An insurance agent or broker may be the best bet for sorting out your options. To find one, see How To Sign Up for Obamacare in Washington.
5. You can get help signing up if you need it.
You may have heard that it will be more difficult to find enrollment help this year. That's because the Trump administration has drastically cut funding for the programs that provide enrollment help in many states. The good news is that Washington state doesn't rely on federal funding for its outreach and enrollment assistance programs so you still have many options for free help.
In Washington, the average premium increase for individual plans is 24 percent for 2018. Because of this, it makes especially good sense to get help finding the best plan and making sure you're getting any subsidy help for which you qualify.
For the help resources available to you, see Get Help Finding a Health Insurance Plan in Washington.
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