Church Benefits Board

Church Benefits Board: Affordable Care Act Enrollment Update

By Gary Skeen

Unfortunately, healthcare has become even more of a political beach ball than when it was first approved by Congress and implemented in 2010. Staying away from any political discussion is our goal with this blog, but there are some very important dates and plan changes for you to know for your own healthcare, or for many people you may serve.

Many ministers rely on the Affordable care act either because it’s the cheapest option, or their churches/organizations don’t provide an affordable group plan option. Also, many church members are relying on the ACA or face no health insurance at all, so let’s catch you up with this year’s changes:

  • Open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15, the shortest period yet to sign up. For people in South Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey or in Florida affected by Irma, the deadline is extended through December 31.
  • If you enroll outside the shortened period, some documentation may be required.
  • Some states have extended their enrollment period, so we would refer you to local sites to verify your situation.

 ACA Plan changes:

  • Insurers are now permitted to collect unpaid premiums for prior coverage before enrolling in a new plan.
  • New regulations expand coverage variations within plan color (metal: Bronze, silver, gold, and platinum) categories.
  • The President has indicated that cost sharing reduction payments will cease, but congressional actions are being considered.

The bottom line is if you don’t apply for health insurance during open enrollment period – and don’t qualify for special enrollment (presuming you don’t have access to employer-provided health insurance) – your options are generally limited to purchasing private commercial insurance, short term health insurance, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Gary Skeen serves as president of CBF Church Benefits. For more information about CBF Church Benefits, please contact via email at churchbenefits@churchbenefits.org or 1-800-352-8741.

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