News

First deadline for health insurance enrollment approaching

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 10, 2014 4:36 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- The first significant deadline for health insurance is approaching.

If you’re shopping on the federal health insurance exchange and want coverage to start January 1, you must enroll in a plan by December 15th.

Last year, the deadline was quietly pushed back by the federal government because of website problems that frustrated hundreds of thousands of people.

Dr. Donald Schwartz at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which advocates for better health care access, says someone shouldn't count on an extension again this year.

"Everything's pretty clear. People know the deadlines, we now know the plans, we have working websites, and hopefully people have experience with the new health insurance opportunities. They may have a family member or a friend or someone else," says Dr. Schwartz.

Schwartz says he isn't aware of any major problems with health care.gov this year, and more people are now familiar with what the law requires of them.

"So in some cases, insurers have raised their rates. In some cases, they've created insurance opportunites at lower rates. It depends on each individual or family's needs," he adds.

However, federal data shows rates can vary widely among regions: in Pittsburgh, the second lowest silver plan carries a $219 monthly premium, while the same person in Philadelphia would pay $141.

For those who are uninsured next year, they risk a higher fine: two percent of household income or $325 per person, although many exemptions still exist.

 

This story is part of WITF's Transforming Health projectTo learn more about how to enroll in health insurance, check out our Getting Covered tool. 

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