Need Obamcare coverage for Jan. 1? Wednesday is the deadline

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The deadline for coverage is Jan. 15, but late enrollees won't have plans in effect until Feb. 1.

An important Affordable Care Act deadline is coming.

There’s just one more day for uninsured residents who want to be covered on Jan. 1 to check out enrollment in the federal health insurance exchange. That’s also the deadline for current enrollees who want to make changes to their health benefit policies.

While open enrollment runs through Jan. 15, Jodi Ray, the executive director of Florida Covering Kids and Families at the University of South Florida, says uninsured people and current enrollees should keep Wednesday’s deadline in mind.

“If folks don’t do something and they are already enrolled they are going to be auto enrolled in a plan,” Ray told Florida Politics, adding that auto enrollment could result in people being placed in a plan that no longer fits their needs or isn’t affordable. To avoid that, Ray said customers need to “get online and submit their information and look around by the 15th.”

Ray’s Florida Covering Kids and Families works with 11 partner organizations across the state to provide assistance to provide either in person assistance or virtual assistance to consumers. The groups work under the name Covering Florida.

Covering Florida has “navigators” in every county to assist consumers with health care options. Ray was able to contract with partner organizations after receiving an $11.9 million grant from President Joe Biden‘s administration.

The Biden administration also pushed to eliminate the income cap on who qualifies for subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. Traditionally only those whose income is at or below 400% poverty level have qualified for premium-lowering subsidies. But the American Rescue Plan eliminated the income gap.

Ray said between the expansion of the navigator network and the elimination of the income restrictions on subsidies, there has been an uptick in activity.

“When people saw some more affordable premiums it changed their ability to consider health coverage options,” she said, referring to the elimination of the income cap on subsidies.” Some people i(in the past) just didn’t even bother to enroll when they couldn’t afford it. Some people now find themselves in a situation where they can avail themselves to the more affordable premiums.”

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid data punctuate Ray’s observations about increased activity during the 2022 open enrollment period.

CMS data show that between Nov. 15 and Dec. 4 more than 1.22 million people in Florida had selected a plan on the federal health insurance exchange. That figure includes people who are newly insured through the exchange as well as returning customers who reviewed their insurance options and chose a plan.

It’s a 9% increase in selections when compared to 2021 open enrollment efforts during the same time span.

Florida’s 2022 open enrollment activity has far outpaced that of any other state, with Texas registering a distant second with 747,860 active selections. That’s a 20% increase in selections when compared to 2021 open enrollment activity.

Texas and Florida have had the biggest jumps in plan selection, according to CMS.

Updated enrollment data won’t be available from CMS until after Dec. 15.

While Dec. 15 is the deadline to switch plans and to have coverage in effect Jan. 1, 2022, customers actually can enroll in an Obamacare plan through Jan. 15, 2022. But for those late enrollees coverage won’t take effect until Feb. 1 2022.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


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