Open enrollment for federal marketplace begins Wednesday

Posted at 7:27 AM, Oct 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-31 10:45:11-04

The annual enrollment period for the federal health insurance marketplace starts Wednesday.

The Trump Administration cut the signup period in half, from 90 days to 45 days. The deadline to pick or renew your insurance plan is Dec. 15, or you will face an IRS penalty.

Marcus Johnson is the director of state health policy and advocacy at Vitalyst, part of CoverAZ, a statewide coalition of groups dedicated to helping people get signed up for health insurance. He says 140,000 Arizonans currently buy insurance on the marketplace, but much more are eligible for help paying the premiums.

"Some estimates that we've seen suggest that over 400,000 Arizonans might qualify for financial assistance to go onto the marketplace," Johnson said. "So it's really important that each of us try to at least see what options we might qualify for, for health insurance coverage."

Recently, President Donald Trump canceled what are known as cost-sharing reduction payments to the insurers, which are a reimbursement for the lower rates they are required to offer low-income residents.

Johnson says this will not translate into big premium increases this year.

"Fortunately, in Arizona, the insurance companies anticipated that decision, and they actually built that into the price of their insurance plans on the marketplace for this year, so Arizonans will not see a significant change in the cost of their insurance on the marketplace this year," he said.

To get the help you can go to and make a free appointment with a navigator who will help you find out if your children qualify for KidsCare, or if you meet the requirements for Medicaid, known as AHCCCS in Arizona, or for a subsidy to buy insurance on the individual market.

Keep in mind the Department of Health and Human Services has chosen to shut downhealthcare.Gov every Sunday during enrollment for maintenance.