ACA mar­ket­place signup dead­line looms

Dec. 15 is short­ened cut­off for en­roll­ment

Albuquerque Journal - - BUSINESS - More in­for­ma­tion about New Mex­ico’s mar­ket­place is avail­able on beWellnm.com or by call­ing 1-833-ToBeWell. A plan com­par­i­son tool is avail­able through the Of­fice of Su­per­in­ten­dent of In­sur­ance at OSICom­pareHealthPlans.org. BY MARIE C. BACA JOUR­NAL STAFF W

About a week re­mains to sign up for health in­sur­ance on the Af­ford­able Care Act mar­ket­place.

The end of the 45-day en­roll­ment pe­riod is Dec. 15. Last year’s dead­line was Jan. 31.

The fed­eral Cen­ter for Medi­care & Med­i­caid ser­vices re­ported that 20,191 New Mex­i­cans had signed up by the fifth week of the en­roll­ment pe­riod. A yearover-year com­par­i­son was not avail­able.

About 55,000 New Mex­i­cans signed up for mar­ket­place plans in 2016.

Ch­eryl Gard­ner, CEO of be Wellnm, the state’s health care ex­change, said she is “hope­ful” about the en­roll­ment fig­ures.

“We get an uptick in our en­roll­ment in the last third of the pe­riod, which is this week,” Gard­ner said. “It’s clear that we’ve built a cul­ture of cov­er­age in New Mex­ico, and peo­ple here don’t want to change that.”

Gard­ner said about 50,000 New Mex­i­cans are el­i­gi­ble for in­come-based tax cred­its that would ren­der their plans ei­ther free or re­duced in cost.

Na­tion­ally, 3.6 mil­lion peo­ple have signed up for plans through the Af­ford­able Care Act, which is also known as Oba­macare.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has made un­der­min­ing the act a cor­ner­stone of its health care pol­icy. In ad­di­tion to shrink­ing the en­roll­ment pe­riod, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has cut cer­tain sub­si­dies to health in­sur­ance com­pa­nies that cover low­in­come peo­ple; slashed the con­sumer out­reach bud­get by 90 per­cent; and planned out­ages of the fed­eral mar­ket­place web­site, Health­care.gov, dur­ing peak en­roll­ment times.

The Sen­ate tax bill ap­proved last week­end elim­i­nates the penalty for those who choose not to en­roll in health in­sur­ance. The House and Sen­ate are now work­ing on a fi­nal ver­sion of the bill.

Ac­cord­ing to the Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice, a re­peal of the in­di­vid­ual man­date would in­crease pre­mi­ums and lead to 13 mil­lion more peo­ple go­ing with­out health in­sur­ance over the next decade.

Repub­li­can lead­ers ar­gue that the man­date rep­re­sents an over­reach of gov­ern­ment pow­ers.

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