Sign Up for Health Insurance: It’s On!

Open enrollment under the ACA will be from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. Free, LGBTQ-friendly help is available from certified and trained experts

As the leaves begin to turn and the air becomes more brisk, we find ourselves growing more eager for the upcoming holidays. But before we get organized for our Thanksgiving feasts, let’s begin a new tradition: enrolling in a health insurance plan.

Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace will kick off on Nov. 1, 2017, and continue through Dec. 15, 2017, with coverage starting Jan. 1, 2018.

It’s important for consumers to know that the Health Insurance Marketplace is here, and it will be open and available for consumers to get covered in a quality plan that covers the 10 essential health benefits required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Most insurance plans must cover these 10 categories of health services, including care to help prevent disease, care for children, emergency care and prescription drugs.

Thanks to the ACA, which is often called Obamacare, the uninsured rate for low- and middle-income LGBTQ people and families has dropped by more than 35 percent. This means that more people in the community have access to medically necessary services they need, from life-saving medicine to gender-affirming care.

Enrolling for health coverage and staying covered has never been more important. 

The ACA and the Marketplace are here, and it’s important for those in the LGBTQ community to get covered and take advantage of the protections and opportunities that health coverage under the ACA brings.

Marketplace plans under the ACA offer many protections, including:

  • You can’t be turned down because of a pre-existing condition.
  • Plans must provide certain preventive care for free.
  • Plans must cover mental health and substance abuse services.
  • Your coverage will not be canceled because of illness.

Financial help is available for those who qualify. Most people who signed up for coverage in the Marketplace last year qualified for financial help to lower their costs. In fact, last year, eight out of every 10 people qualified for a discount on their premiums through a premium tax credit. Most people are able to find health insurance for about $50 to $100 per month with financial help.

Health insurance can be confusing. According to Out 2 Enroll, 80 percent of LGBTQ people want help from someone who understands their questions about issues such as same-sex coverage and transition-related care.

Ready to help you get covered

You can get free, LGBTQ-friendly help from certified and trained experts in your area. The Kansas City CARE Clinic has in-person assisters available at 816-753-5144, Ext. 1380, or cac@kccareclinic.org. You can also connect with in-person help by calling 211, where you’ll be directed to a location near you. Other helpful websites include coverkc.org, covermissouri.org, and www.out2enroll.org.

Remember, from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2017, you can enroll for coverage that will start on Jan. 1, 2018. Don’t wait to make a free appointment with an in-person assister to look at your options, get your questions answered, and make sure you are covered!

Angela McFadden, certified application counselor, is an in-person assister at the Kansas City CARE Clinic, 3515 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo. She can be reached at angelam@kccareclinic.org.