Marketplace for Affordable Health Plans Reopens Soon
Thursday, February 11, 2021
HELENA, Mont. -- Montanans will have another chance to find low-cost health insurance starting Monday.
Through executive order, President Joe Biden has reopened enrollment in the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
Jeremy Smith, program director for Montana Navigator, a nonprofit that assists people in health-care enrollment, said people who have been laid off likely have lost their employer-based health care as well.
"A lot of the people that have lost their jobs, they may have never had to shop for health insurance before, ever," Smith explained. "They may not be very familiar about Healthcare.gov or the health insurance plans on the marketplace, so they may have missed the first open-enrollment period."
Smith noted last year, about four in five applicants qualified for financial help and more than three in five got a plan for less than fifty dollars per month. The reopened period will run from Monday through May 15.
Smith added his organization is offering virtual appointments and navigators can answer folks' questions.
"To really learn about health insurance, it's almost like learning a second language," Smith observed. "It's really hard for a lot of people to grasp what is a deductible or what is a premium or is my doctor going to be in-network or are my medications going to be covered?"
For folks who look for health insurance outside the government marketplace, Smith advised them to be on the lookout for junk insurance plans, which can limit benefits based on a number of factors such as pre-existing conditions.
"What we see a lot of people do is, they fall into these traps and they're not really sure what they're buying when they get health insurance," Smith cautioned. "So it's just really important that you look at the details when you're signing up for health-insurance plans."
The original period ran Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. During that time, about 44,000 Montanans enrolled in plans.
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