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Sen. Maggie Hassan: Get health coverage – how to take advantage of open enrollment



For the Monitor
Sunday, November 05, 2017

There is understandably some confusion about where things stand with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Despite what you may have heard about what has been happening in Washington, the Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, and with open enrollment for plans covering 2018 now underway, I want to make sure that everyone has the information and resources they need to get health coverage.

For a guide on what you need to know to take advantage of open enrollment, you can also visit my website at Hassan.Senate.Gov/Get-Covered.

Through Dec. 15, Granite Staters have an opportunity to shop and sign up for a plan on the health insurance marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Coverage obtained on the Health Insurance Marketplace during open enrollment will be effective Jan. 1, 2018.

This open enrollment period is also an important time for people who already have health insurance plans in the marketplace to see what other plans are available, to shop around and see if other plans offer more savings than their current one does. Insurance prices can change, so it pays to shop around.

Granite Staters should also know that financial help may be available to help purchase coverage – in past years, the majority of people purchasing private coverage on New Hampshire’s individual market qualified for financial help to lower their monthly premium costs.

Every citizen deserves quality, affordable health insurance coverage to help live healthy and productive lives. Access to health care is critical to the freedom, dignity and well-being of our citizens; and it also contributes to a productive workforce and a thriving economy.

All across New Hampshire, I have heard stories of families who saved hundreds of dollars a month, individuals who were able to get affordable coverage despite what was previously considered a pre-existing condition, and entrepreneurs who were able to take the risk of starting up a business because of the coverage they got through HealthCare.gov.

That is why I have fought so hard to protect health care coverage for Granite Staters as some of my colleagues attempted to pass Trumpcare legislation that would have stripped coverage away and led to higher health care costs for worse care.

It is also why I am speaking out as open enrollment begins to ensure that all Granite Staters take advantage of this opportunity to sign up for a health care plan.

Despite the Trump administration’s continued efforts to sabotage our nation’s health care system, the health insurance marketplace is open for business. This is a critical time to educate our friends and neighbors about the options that are available to them on HealthCare.gov.

This administration’s sabotage attempts include slashing the Affordable Care Act’s outreach and advertising budgets ahead of open enrollment – outreach and advertising which provide key information and resources for those who need to sign up for care.

Unfortunately, the administration’s efforts to sabotage health insurance markets have resulted in significantly increased premiums for the people who don’t qualify for subsidies. I’ve co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that would help undo President Trump’s damage and stabilize the health insurance market and prices. The legislation also includes a special provision that would make it easier for New Hampshire to take its own steps to address health insurance costs. Because it is co-sponsored by 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans, it is clear that this legislation has the votes to pass, and we need Republican leadership to bring it up for a vote.

The Trump administration’s sabotage makes it obvious that it doesn’t want people to know that they can enroll for coverage, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, people can still get covered, and financial assistance is available for many on the health insurance marketplace. The administration must end this sabotage and we all should continue to work together on efforts to lower costs and build on and improve the Affordable Care Act.

That’s exactly what I am focused on as a member of the Senate health committee.

I will continue working to lower health care costs to ensure that health care is truly available and affordable to all of our people, and encourage citizens in New Hampshire and across the country to sign up for the care that they need to help their families thrive.

The open enrollment period is a critical time for the health and well-being of our citizens, and for the productivity of our state and country.

I encourage Granite Staters to take advantage of this opportunity and receive the benefits that come with affordable health care.

(Maggie Hassan is New Hampshire’s junior U.S. senator.)