Open Enrollment Underway For Health Insurance Marketplace

Nov 8, 2019

Until December 15th, anyone without health insurance coverage can sign up to purchase an individual plan through the federal Affordable Care Act marketplace.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act established a healthcare marketplace, with the goal of allowing the uninsured to purchase individual health. The individual plans are meant to provide an option for Americans who do not get insurance through an employer, but also do not qualify for Medicare and Medicaid.

That’s not a huge population in Hawaii, only around 20,000 people, according to the state Department of Human Services and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But open enrollment only comes once a year, for just 45 days. Certain life events, like losing your job or having a new child, allow enrollment outside that window. Otherwise, open enrollment is the only chance to sign up.

Dale Goya, assistant vice president with Hawaii's largest health insurer, HMSA, says that anyone considering an individual plan should first determine his or her options through the marketplace

"What we like to do is recommend that people go to the federal marketplace first, because you could possible qualify for a subsidy,” Goya told HPR. 

Those subsidies can offset the cost of premiums and co-payments. Prospective buyers can visit the website Healthcare.gov to find out if they qualify for a tax credit or a cost-sharing subsidy. The marketplace will also display what plans are available to purchase in a customer's region.

The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is also offering free counseling, including to non-English speakers, for anyone interested in buying an individual plan.