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The Affordable Care Act’s individual market is still in place and has entered a shortened open-enrollment period. Those buying insurance have only until Dec. 15 this year to purchase or renew their health insurance coverage. In previous years, open enrollment lasted until Dec. 31.

The NJ Association of Health Plans has put together the following FAQ for those who need more information.

2018 Individual Market Open Enrollment Information 

Q:  What is an open enrollment period?

The yearly period when people can enroll in a health insurance plan. Generally, you are not permitted to sign up for coverage outside the open enrollment period.  There are exceptions if you qualify for a “Special Enrollment Period,” which is for people who experience certain life events, like getting married, having a baby, or losing other health coverage.

Q?  When is this year’s open enrollment period for individual market coverage in 2018?

Open Enrollment for 2018 runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017.  If consumers want to enroll or re-enroll in “Obamacare” for 2018, they must do so during this time period.  This is shorter than in prior years and federal funding for consumer outreach and advertising was cut, so consumers may be unaware of this change.

Q:   Are there penalties for not having insurance?

Yes, if a taxpayer does not have coverage or qualify for an exemption he/she must pay an “individual responsibility tax,” which is the greater of either a fixed dollar amount (adjusted annually; in 2017 it was $695 per adult and $347.50 per child) or 2.5 percent of household income above the tax filing limit.

Q: Where can I go to shop for coverage or find trusted information?

  • To shop for all coverage options and to see if you qualify for a subsidy, go to gov.
  • Call 1-800-318-2596 or visit http://localhelp.healthcare.gov for free in-person help.
  • The Individual Health Coverage Board (“IHC”) at the Department of Banking and Insurance (“DOBI”) publishes this excellent New Jersey Individual Market Buyer’s Guide.  It has information about eligibility, coverage options, and much more.
  • Also, the IHC Board/DOBI’s website has additional information about shopping for individual and small employer (1-50 employees) market coverage including an overview of rates.  You can access that information here.
  • Check out and share marketplace.cms.gov. There are training materials, webinars, FAQs, and customizable templates for groups that are providing direct assistance to people.
  • Get this Five Facts flier from GetAmericaCovered.org, a nonprofit working on educating consumers about health coverage options.

Q:  What insurance carriers offer coverage to individuals and their families on the exchange (with subsidies available for those below 400% of the federal poverty limit)?


Carrier
Website Phone
AmeriHealth HMO Inc. and AmeriHealth Ins. Co. www.amerihealthnj.com 1-866-681-7368
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ and Horizon HealthCare of NJ www.horizonblue.com 1-800-224-1234
Oscar Insurance Corporation www.hioscar.com 1-844-672-2766