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4th ACA Open Enrollment Begins

Monday, October 31, 2016  
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4th ACA Open Enrollment Begins

By Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations


The window for individuals to renew their healthcare coverage or enroll in a new health insurance plan begins November 1.


For individuals and the self-employed, open enrollment for 2017 health insurance plans begins November 1, 2016 and runs through January 31st. This is the opportunity to renew or change plans on or state-run exchanges. Some plans may automatically renew, but not all plans have this feature. It is important to note that a renewal of an existing plan may have different premiums, copays, and benefits for 2017. All individuals who file taxes are required to purchase health insurance or face a penalty of either 2.5% of income, or $695 – whichever is higher.


Some important open enrollment dates include:


  • November 1, 2016:  First day to enroll or change a 2017 health plan.
  • December 15, 2016: Last day to enroll in or change plans for an effective date of January 1, 2017.
  • January 31, 2017: Last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health plan


While open enrollment is a critical time for individuals – the Administration expects 13.8 million sign-ups – business owners that would like to provide coverage can access the Small Business Health Options Program or “SHOP” Marketplace at any time. For those interested, SHOP exchanges are an online platform for business owners to select plans, pay premiums and manage coverage. SHOP exchanges are available to small businesses that employ 50 or fewer employees. For 2017 updates and to see if your business qualifies, check out the SHOP Marketplace Overview.  


Furthermore, small businesses may be eligible for the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. Business owners with less than 25 employees, that pay at least 50% of their employees’ premiums, may be eligible for a tax credit worth up to 50% of the employees' premium costs. The self-employed are not eligible for the SHOP Marketplace or the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. Rather, they can shop for plans on individual exchanges and may be eligible for premium subsidies.


This open enrollment period comes amid a media flurry. Data released by the White House shows that monthly premiums are likely to increase by an average of 25%.  Furthermore, several large insurers announced this summer that they would no longer be participating in certain state-run exchanges, citing lack of profitability.


Changes to the ACA or its repeal will certainly be a hot topic for the next Congress. WIPP has been a vocal advocate for accessible and competitively priced options for women business owners. Just this summer, the House passed one of WIPP’s top priorities: healthcare reimbursement arrangements or HRAs. The Senate has yet to act. Healthcare access and affordability will remain a top advocacy priority for 2017. More information on WIPP’s healthcare priorities can be found here.

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