Commentary

Column: Here’s how you can still sign up for affordable health insurance under the ACA

January 12, 2023 5:24 am

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If you don’t have health insurance — or just want to explore your options — go to healthcare.gov on or before Sunday to get covered with affordable health insurance now.

Having and keeping good quality affordable health care is personal for me. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) saved my life.

In 2017, I walked into a doctor’s office with a nagging cough and walked out with a stage four cancer diagnosis. My Obamacare policy paid for the six months of chemotherapy and a month of radiation treatments I needed to be in remission today. As a small business owner, before the ACA I was only eligible for junk insurance. If I still had that policy, I would be bankrupt or dead.

Laura Packard undergoing chemotherapy | Laura Packard photo

Nobody knows what our future holds. From an accident to an unexpected diagnosis, we all deserve great health care when we need it. When we are sick or injured, our focus should be on healing, not living through sleepless nights worrying how to pay for it.

In the past, Affordable Care Act health insurance policies weren’t always affordable for some middle class Americans like me and perhaps you too. At the time I was diagnosed, I did not qualify for financial help.

But thanks to Congress and President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and now the Inflation Reduction Act, millions more can get assistance paying for their health insurance. Your premiums are capped at no more than 8.5% of your income, and you may be eligible for cost-sharing to bring down prices even more. 4 out of 5 Americans can find coverage options for $10 a month or less.

About 304,000 Michiganders with Marketplace coverage are saving an average of about $790 annually.

These health insurance savings are especially important for self-employed people, small business owners and employees, gig workers, temp workers, and older people who have retired but are not yet eligible for Medicare.

To find out what discounts you are eligible for (and also whether you may be eligible for Medicaid or other programs in your state), go to healthcare.gov and plug in your estimated income for 2023. If you live in a state with its own state-based health insurance exchange, you will be redirected to the website for your state.

The deadline for open enrollment is Sunday. After that date, you would only be able to sign up if you qualified for a special enrollment period — perhaps you moved, or experienced a life change such as getting married or divorced, or lost health insurance through your employer.

There is much more work to do, but we have come far on making health care more affordable in the past few years.

Even if you didn’t qualify for help before, the subsidies available through the Inflation Reduction Act mean that millions more Americans like you and I will get financial assistance. Take a few minutes to go through your options, and figure out what coverage possibilities you’re eligible for.

If there is more you want to know about open enrollment and your options, check out my CareTalk show and podcast, where experts answer your health insurance questions and talk through larger issues in our health care system.

Time is running out to ensure you and your family have access to affordable health care this year. The life you save could be your own. Get covered through healthcare.gov today.

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Laura Packard
Laura Packard

Laura Packard is a stage 4 cancer survivor, founder of Voices of Health Care, co-chair of the Health Care Voter campaign, and a small business owner based in Denver. A former Michigander, she has worked on campaigns in several states, including in Arkansas in 2009-10 to help get the Affordable Care Act passed in the first place.

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