Are you tired of getting reminders by email or mail to sign up for 2017 coverage under the Affordable Care Act? Since President Trump has been elected, you may think that signing up is a waste of time, particularly if you don’t expect to see a doctor this year. After all, President Trump is going to abolish the ACA anyway, right? It’s true that healthcare in America is about to face major changes under the new administration, but don’t be too quick to shrug off coverage as pointless or unnecessary. There’s always a good reason to get health insurance. Here are a few for 2017.
Trump Might Change His Mind
President Trump spoke firmly against Obamacare during his campaign, making it crystal clear that his intent was to repeal the law. Since taking office, however, his views have seemed to change considerably. At the very least, Trump has openly admitted that he supports one of the major tenants of the bill. He wants to make sure enrollees can’t be denied coverage by insurers for having a pre-existing condition.
But there are exceptions to this. Republican plans may allow insurance carriers to reject applicants who have a pre-existing condition and whose coverage has not been continuous. In other words, if you were unemployed temporarily and decided not to buy coverage, but you try to sign up again once you’re back on track, you may be denied or charged higher premium rates. This is one good reason that people with pre-existing conditions need to take advantage of the law’s protections for this year. Under the ACA, insurers can’t deny your application for coverage based on medical condition, and you can’t be charged higher premium rates. Sign up in 2017 to enjoy the full benefits of the law before they change.
Benefits Won’t Disappear in 2017
You may believe that because Trump plans to demolish Obamacare that you won’t have coverage under it even if you enroll this year. It’s one of the top concerns among consumers going into the 2017 plan year. But policy experts don’t think this is the case. In fact, many experts don’t think Americans should worry about major changes taking place in 2017. Elizabeth Hagan, a senior policy analyst at Families USA, said that those enrolled in the ACA this year will be covered until 2018. In other words, nobody knows what’s going to happen after 2017, but your coverage will be good through at least this year.
A New Proposal Could Keep Things the Same
Earlier this week, four Republican senators put together the Patient Freedom Act, which is a bill that, if enacted, offers individual states the ability to choose between three options for healthcare:
- Retain some of the provisions of the ACA while limiting subsidies.
- Implement the proposed plan for health savings accounts paired with high-deductible health plans and receive federal grants or refundable tax credits.
Design an alternative plan without federal assistance.
Essentially, this means that states might choose an option that effectively keeps much of the Affordable Care Act intact, marketplaces and all. It’s unlikely that President Trump and his supporters will support this, but the fact that an option like this exists means that some Republican lawmakers are willing to strike a deal with their Democratic opponents. Having health insurance in 2017 will help you weather the storm, regardless of what happens in Washington.
Republicans Have Promised a Transition Period
Republicans have pledged that if they do repeal Obamacare, they will offer a transition period to people who are covered under ACA plans so that they won’t be left without coverage. What this “transition period” will look like is uncertain. What is clear is that people who buy health insurance for 2017 will be able to keep those plans at least until something official gets adopted by the new administration.
The Future Isn’t Set in Stone
Political commentators have questioned whether President Trump will actually go forward with his plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. From a political standpoint, kicking 20 million people off of their health insurance would be disastrous, even for people who didn’t support the law in the first place. Enrollment surged after Trump was elected, and signups continue to increase despite uncertainty about the future of Obamacare. Some experts suspect that increased signups this year could change the new administration’s mind about replacing the ACA. If you sign up for health insurance this year, you may be sending a message to Washington that coverage matters to you, along with the other 11.6 million people who’ve already signed up for 2017.
You May Still Be Fined
Several executive orders signed by President Trump this week raised questions about the future of the individual mandate, the penalty charged to people who don’t get health insurance for the year. While there are doubts about whether people will be fined next tax season, right now, your best bet to avoid the fine is to enroll in an ACA-compliant health plan. The deadline to sign up is January 31. If you don’t have coverage, you could pay $695 or 2.5 percent of your taxable income, whichever is higher.
Aside from the penalty cost, there are other financial reasons to get health insurance, not least of which is the fact that medical bills can stack up before you know it. Take charge of your family’s healthcare in 2017, and enroll in a qualified health plan today.