12-14-2017  12:33 am      •     
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Experts are encouraging people to sign up for health coverage in due time, as the Trump administration has shortened the enrollment period
By The Skanner News
Published: 16 November 2017

In support of open enrollment season for health insurance, the Multnomah County Library has partnered with the health department to spread the word.

Open enrollment runs for 45 days, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. County residents can visit any branch of the Multnomah County Library with questions and resources.

In addition, the library is hosting a series of public sessions across the county to offer information on the application and enrollment process.

Residents can call 503-988-5841 to register for a session, or visit the library’s website for dates and locations.

“We are here to connect people with information and resources,” Shawn Cunningham, director of communication at Multnomah County Library, told The Skanner. “We have staff that can help with taxes, financial literacy, or getting people on a path to citizenship. We provide all kinds of resources across the spectrum of our work, so connecting them to healthcare is very much in line with that.”

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The library’s enrollment information is also available in Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese. Interpreters are available upon request.

During this open enrollment period, Oregonians – along with Americans across the nation – can sign up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace by visiting healthcare.gov or localhelp.healthcare.gov for assistance.

“It’s critical that everyone in our communities know that this is the window to sign up through the ACA marketplace,” said Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley in a press release. “With the financial assistance available through the exchange, many Americans will be able to find affordable, quality coverage.”

Millions of Americans qualify for tax credits that make health plans affordable, ranging from $50 to 100 per month.

Already, roughly 10 million Americans have coverage through the ACA marketplace, but millions more remain uninsured.

This year, experts are encouraging people to enroll in due time, as the Trump administration has shortened the enrollment period and will shut down the healthcare.gov website nearly every Sunday for 12 hours at a time.

“It’s disappointing that people out there are sowing confusion and trying to dissuade fellow Americans from getting health coverage,” Merkley continued. “It’s incumbent on all of us to make sure that Oregonians and all Americans know they have the opportunity to sign up for life-saving health coverage.”

 

The Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services has shared several tips for getting covered:

1. Get free, local help enrolling. You can sign up for health insurance on your own at healthcare.gov, but if you face any difficulties, have questions, or need advice to choose a plan, trained experts are available. Certified community groups (community partners) and licensed insurance agents will help you free of charge. They are listed at OregonHealthCare.gov/gethelp.

2. If you already have HealthCare.gov coverage, log in to your account to update your application and look through your 2018 plan options. Your income, available plans, or premiums may have changed since you last enrolled. Make sure you continue to get all the financial assistance you qualify for and to choose the plan that's best for your needs and your budget. 

3. Be ready to submit documents to verify income, but don't let paperwork stop you from starting your enrollment. When you apply for financial assistance at healthcare.gov, you enter the income you think you will have for 2018. Healthcare.gov will sometimes ask for proof of income if you enter an amount that is much different from what you had last year. Don't let it stop you from starting your application. 

4. If you want to keep seeing your current doctors, make a list. Many health insurance plans rely on networks of providers, and you save the most money when you see an in-network doctor, nurse practitioner, or health care provider. Plans and networks can change, and healthcare.gov has tools for narrowing your plan options to the ones that include your providers in their networks. It helps if you have your list handy when you start to look through the plans. 

5. Mind the deadline! Open enrollment for 2018 plans ends Dec. 15. Once the deadline passes, you won't be able to get or switch plans unless you experience a major life event, such as moving across the state or out of state. Start your application early, and get help if you need it.

 

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