Should you still sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act? YES

Ever since the election, people are wondering whether their health insurance coverage will survive next year, if the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called “Obamacare”) is targeted for repeal.

The short answer is, Yes. Your insurance should stay the same all through 2017, whether you are enrolled through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange or through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid).

Open Enrollment has already started, for people with incomes that qualify for discounted plans on the Exchange. There are two deadlines coming up. The first deadline – to complete an application for coverage that starts in January – will be December 15th.  The final deadline is January 31, 2017.

People who buy coverage now should feel confident that it is good for all of 2017 – no matter what happens.

Why making changes will take time

There are many reasons why the insurance coverage will survive through 2017, largely related to the complexity of the law. It will take time for the new Congress to work out the many, many details of how they might overhaul the health insurance system. And the Affordable Care Act impacts many sectors of the economy, including hospitals and doctors, insurance companies, drug companies, and others.

In addition, Washington state operates its own marketplace, which has enjoyed bi-partisan support from our state leaders, stakeholders and insurance carriers.

Should the law simply be repealed, more than 200,000 King County residents could lose their health coverage. Nationally, more than 20 million people would lose coverage.

Everyone needs access to care

In the meantime, Public Health—Seattle & King County remains committed to the idea that everyone needs access to timely, quality health care. Assuring access to care remains an essential role for Public Health.

People with health insurance are able to access preventive care and better manage their chronic diseases. People who gain insurance after being uninsured show improved health care quality, use emergency departments less, and report that their health has improved.

The department is proud to lead the enrollment efforts in King County. Together, with a network of community agencies, businesses, labor groups and hospitals, we have reduced the number of people who are uninsured by more than 50 percent in just three years. The uninsured rate for children in King County has reached an historic low of 1.6 percent.

Our Access & Outreach team and the county’s network of enrollment Navigators have given one-on-one enrollment help to more than 100,000 people. For example, they help people at libraries, food banks, hospitals and other public places. Those enrollment events continue in the days and weeks ahead.

How to sign up for affordable insurance

  • Residents can enroll at Washington Healthplanfinder from Nov. 1, 2016 through Jan. 31, 2017.
  • Choose from eight insurance carriers in King County, offering dozens of plans.
  • Get assistance across the county. Find a listing at Coverage is Here or call Public Health’s assistance hotline: 800-756-5437
  • Washington Apple Health – providing free insurance to those at the lowest range of the income spectrum – is open year-round for enrollment.

Public Health—Seattle & King County is a Lead Navigator Organization through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act.

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I'm part of the communications team at Public Health - Seattle & King County and work closely with all of the programs in the Community Health Services Division.