Beginning today, Americans can enroll or re-enroll in health care plans for 2018. About 1.4 million Californians are eligible for plans offered by Covered California, and can visit the site between now and Jan. 31 to choose a plan. California’s open enrollment still lasts 90 days, even as Trump has cut that time in half for many other states whose residents use the federal marketplace, HealthCare.gov.
Trump also has sought to undermine this year’s ACA Open Enrollment period by slashing outreach funding intended to raise awareness. That's why it's crucial that Americans who support the universal right to affordable healthcare pick up the slack, and help spread the word about Open Enrollment to help those who might otherwise not hear about it. The best way to do so is to talk with family, friends and social media contacts about the facts surrounding the ACA and Open Enrollment:
- Here in the Conejo Valley, insurance giant Anthem Blue Cross has decided to pull out of the individual insurance market. That decision, driven by the uncertainty surrounding Trump's sabotage of the ACA's cost-sharing reductions, means that more than 10,000 Ventura County residents currently covered by individual Anthem plans will have to switch to Blue Shield or Kaiser Permanente in the new year.
- Some Conejo Valley residents who have used Anthem could be forced to use a different hospital and find new doctors. However, a new California law, the Continuity of Care Act, will allow Covered CA and other individual-market participants to continue seeing their current doctor -- regardless of other coverage issues -- if they are in the middle of treatement for many illnesses and conditions.
- Despite Trump's sabotage, for currently uninsured residents, coverage is probably more affordable than they think.
- Those who already have coverage through HealthCare.gov, Covered CA or another state marketplace should come back and shop, because plans and prices change every year. Their needs might be met by a more affordable plan in the new year.
- Those who qualify for subsidies–which includes families of four who make up to $96,000–will be protected from rate hikes, including the “Trump tax” created from his decision to defund cost-sharing subsidies. Most California consumers will be eligible for higher premium tax credits, offsetting any premium rate increases that result from Trump's sabotage.
Trump's sabotage, and congressional Republicans' attempts to repeal the ACA, no doubt will continue. But that shouldn't stop Californians -- or any American -- from finding a plan that meets their needs. To protect our nation's progress on health care, the best thing we can do is make sure that our friends, family members, and as many people in our community as possible are signed up for coverage, making it morally and logistically impossible for our members of Congress to take it away.