Healthcare continues to come up in the news, but this time around, it's not for a no-good, very bad reason: Open enrollment starts Nov. 1, 2017 and ends Dec. 15 for folks who buy their own health insurance. That gives you only 45 days to shop and purchase your health insurance plans if you don't get insurance through an employer. While the deadline has been extended to Dec. 31 for hurricane victims and Medicare enrollees, this is still a shorter time frame than previous years. Why? Because the Trump administration is quite keen to see the Obama's hallmark law, the Affordable Care Act, fail, and as such has cut the enrollment period from three months to 45 days, a decision that came earlier this year from the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as minimized advertising for this open enrollment season.
Why do we have open enrollment anyway? Why can't you sign up for health insurance anytime you want? Good questions. Open enrollment was created when Obamacare passed, and it's supposed to stabilize healthcare costs. Insurance works best when everyone pays into the same risk pool, regardless of health status. If there was no open enrollment or requirement for coverage, folks would likely only get insurance when they got sick or felt like they needed it for surgery. Risk pools need money from healthy people to cover the cost of folks who use their insurance often. But healthy people need insurance too. "Insurance is important for everyone, not just in a doomsday scenario, but to prevent one," Carolyn Witte, a women's health advocate and co-founder of the Tia App, tells Bustle. Many see this as socialism (which it's not), which is why the Republicans hate it.
In addition to the Republicans trying and failing to repeal Obamacare completely, the Trump Administration has already made changes to law, and they probably affect you. (Yes, you!) You may have heard that the Trump Administration rolled back the mandate for employers to include no-copay birth control in their healthcare plans. Additionally, last month, Trump signed an executive order that allows people to buy short-term health insurance that doesn’t comply with the ACA, weakening the enforcement of the individual mandate. Essentially, since Congress couldn't repeal or replace Obamacare, Trump is taking matters into his own hands.
But don’t despair or give up on getting health insurance because of all the misinformation out there. (That’s what this administration wants you to do.) It’s important to feel good about major purchases like health insurance. Before you go to healthcare.gov to choose an insurance provider, read this list to familiarize yourself with things you should know and look out for when shopping for health care insurance over the next 45 days.