Tennesseans still have time to sign up before ACA enrollment deadline

By Danielle Smith, Tennessee News Service

In Tennessee and across the country, the deadline to enroll in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is Friday at midnight.

More than 4 million people have already signed up for coverage since enrollment opened on Nov. 1.

Aida Whitfield, director of Get Covered Tennessee, said Tennesseans have to sign up and finalize their enrollment by Dec. 15, so that their coverage would start Jan. 1.

“TennCare started their renewal process around April this year and, as a result, a large number of individuals and families are losing their TennCare coverage because of income increase or aging out of the TennCare program. Most likely, these individuals are eligible to enroll in coverage through the Marketplace,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield added that if individuals miss the Friday deadline, they could still enroll until Jan. 15. However, their coverage will not start until Feb. 1.

Tennesseans would need to have projected income of more than 100% but less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level to be eligible for a tax credit to lower their expense on the Marketplace plans.

Whitfield stressed the importance of having health insurance because it protects people from unexpected medical costs, and said Tennessee residents who sign up through the Marketplace, based on household income, could be eligible for tax credits to lower their premiums, deductibles and other expenses.

“This year, from what we’re seeing, premiums through the Marketplace are lower than last year,” Whitfield added. “Individuals are now able to upgrade their coverage to a wider network because prices are lower — and add a standalone dental plan with the extra money they’re saving this year.”

Tennessee residents can visit getcoveredtenn.org or call 866-475-7879, where Affordable Care Act certified navigators are available to provide free, unbiased guidance on the various health insurance choices.

Information is also online at healthcare.gov, where people can shop for plans, compare prices and see if they qualify for a premium subsidy.