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Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Begins Nov. 1
Updated October 31, 2016 6:48 AM | Filed under: Health
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(UNDATED) - The next Open Enrollment for the health insurance options made available under the Affordable Care Act is November 1 through January 31, 2017.

Plans that are offered through the health insurance marketplace are required to cover the basics -- doctor visits, hospital stays, preventive care, prescriptions and more. Many may qualify for assistance paying for the cost of new insurance or for low cost options.

Individuals who are seeking health insurance through the Marketplace can access free Navigator services at local hospitals. Navigators will review plans with individuals and families and answer any questions about the available insurance plans. Navigators are also able to help individuals with their questions and enrollment in Medicaid, CHIP and HIP 2.0.

Patient Navigators provided by the hospital and its partner, ASPIN Health Navigators, are available by appointment. Many hospitals have a Health Insurance Navigator page to its website.

Open Enrollment is the only opportunity to enroll in a plan, change plans, or apply for tax subsidized cost assistance for the entire year, unless a special enrollment qualification is approved. All private health plans share the Health Insurance Marketplace's open enrollment period, while other plans, like employer-based coverage, Medicaid and Medicare, have unique enrollment periods. The only way to get tax subsidized health insurance is by enrolling in the Marketplace. All marketplace coverage counts as minimum essential coverage, which is required by the government to avoid the per-month fee for not having insurance. For those already enrolled, it is important to check coverage. Not all plans auto-renew, and it may be necessary to renew or change coverage during open enrollment.

Anyone who does not have coverage will very likely be at risk to pay a fee. The fee rate will increase from annually, so it is likely the best financial decision to secure insurance as quickly as possible. Open Enrollment is a busy season, so anyone interested in an appointment with a Patient Navigator should call as soon as possible.

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