Affordable Care Act enrollment period begins

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – People across the country are enrolling for health insurance as this marks the fourth year the Affordable Care Act marketplace is available for consumers.

An enrollment kickoff event in Raleigh Tuesday helped navigate customers through the process.

Jennifer Simmons works with the North Carolina Navigator Consortium. She helps people signing up for the Affordable Care Act understand what they’re getting and if they qualify for financial help called subsidies.

“Prices of health insurance have been going up, but there’s financial help available in the marketplace. As a matter of fact 9 out of 10 people that enrolled in coverage actually did that with the benefit of help paying for the cost of that monthly premium,” said Simmons.

Hany Zoror and his wife, Ehssan, benefit from that help.

“We save a lot of money. We pay less than $100 per month,” said Hany.

Hany said this is the third time they’ve been through the enrollment process.

They’ve changed insurance carriers twice in order to get the best deal and subsidies.

“The way I thought it was about $700 and it went down to $88-something,” he said.

In 2016, 613,487 North Carolinians enrolled in the healthcare exchange, according to federal records.

Of those that enrolled, 89 percent qualified for subsidies.

“Most of them will have a much smaller bill because the federal law allows the increases to be covered by the additional subsidies,” said Wayne Goodwin, North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance.

Goodwin said that means the 25 percent price increase in ACA premiums reported by the government will affect a small percentage of residents that do not qualify for help.

“There is a subset of North Carolinians that are feeling that impact. That’s where we need to make some changes in the law to help these families out,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin said the subset of residents that could see a premium increase under the ACA do not have to purchase insurance there. They can seek out coverage from carriers that do not participate in the exchange.

Simmons said even if you’re already enrolled in the exchange, the best way to keep taking advantage of subsidies is to re-enroll.

For those that elect to skip out on coverage all together, there is a fine of $695, or two-and-a-half percent of your yearly income.

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