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Health, Science & Tech

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Open Enrollment Begins For 2020

Pablo Martinez Monsivais
In this Oct. 24, 2016, file photo, the HealthCare.gov 2017 website homepage as seen in Washington.

The Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace is open for people to sign up for coverage for 2020. 

After years of double-digit premium hikes the market has stabilized, with a 4.9 percent overall increase this year, said state Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman.

“For the most part they should expect really similar offerings, really similar prices to last year,” Altman said.

People who earn about $48,000 or less per year qualify for subsidies that help to offset monthly premiums.

Those who earn more than that still can face painful costs. “Definitely that top end of the subsidy level into when you’re not eligible for a subsidy is what public policy folks would call a cliff,” she said.

Pennsylvania is working to help those people, Altman said. Beginning in 2021, the state is taking control of the exchange in order to cut overhead costs and take advantage of a waiver that should lower premiums.

Until then, people can look at Affordable Care Act-compliant plans on the Insurance Department’s Consumer Checkbook, which also lists premiums, deductibles and ratings from people who have used those plans.

Altman warned people to be wary of short-term, limited duration plans that have flooded the market since the Trump administration loosened rules on them. Those plans do not have to follow the rules of the ACA and often don’t cover basic services.

ACA enrollment is down from last year, and Altman has voiced concerns that some people are going without insurance now that president Donald Trump ended the requirement for people to have insurance or face a tax penalty.

Altman also cautioned consumers to be wary of short-term limited duration insurance plans, which have been heavily advertised in some regions following the Trump administration loosening rules on those insurers.

“Unfortunately, what we see in cases where individuals have chosen to forego insurance is they forego important things like primary care and preventative services.”