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Health Insurance Open Enrollment Begins Wednesday. Here's What You Need To Know

Liz Reid
90.5 WESA
Ronald Pederson (left) gets help signing up for health insurance from navigator Christian Fattore on March 17, 2014.

Wednesday is the first day of the open enrollment period for Americans to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for 2018.

About 40,000 Allegheny County residents were enrolled in marketplace plans through the exchanges last year, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

“It has been a tremendous benefit,” said Fitzgerald. “Not just for their physical health and their health security, but also on their financial security, families and where they live.”

Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker estimated about 8 percent of Allegheny County was uninsured in 2013, about 100,000 people. Today, she said that rate has been halved.

And while health insurance is "absolutely critical," Hacker said, it’s not always easy to set up through the online portal.

“It’s a little challenging to figure out how to navigate the system,” she said.

Hacker reminded people that the federal Navigators program is available again this year to help people sign up. Navigators are available for in-person meetings at community centers, health centers and other locations throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.

This year’s open enrollment period is half the length of last year’s, running from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. The federal exchange website will also be down for maintenance on most Sunday mornings.

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