Deadlines near on Medicare/ACA EnrollmentsBy Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Contributor / December 1, 2017
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Anyone in need of Medicare, or who would like to sign up for 2018 coverage per Obamacare, needs to hurry because the deadline to enroll for both health insurance programs is fast approaching.
The enrollment deadline for Medicare is Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017.
According to Medicare.gov, the official U.S. government site for Medicare, Medicare, “…is the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant, sometimes called ESRD).
Medicare is broken into different parts. Medicare Part A covers hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and some home health care.
Medicare Part B covers medical insurance for certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventive services.
Medicare Part C are various health plans (also called Medicare Advantage Plans) offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B benefits.
Medicare Part D offers prescription drug coverage, offered either through Original Medicare, insurance companies or private companies approved by Medicare.
Again, anyone 65, or about to turn 65, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) 24 hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to find out more. The enrollment deadline is Thursday, Dec. 7. Also visit www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan before Dec. 7.
In North Carolina, SHIIP (the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program) can help with all questions about Medicare. Call 1-( 855) 408-1212, or visit www.ncshiip.com.
For those under age 65 and still seeking affordable health insurance starting January 2018, the shortened open enrollment period for Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, ends on Friday, Dec. 15 – two weeks from now.
According to published reports, an estimated 2.28 million people have signed up between Nov. 1, and Nov. 18. That’s more than the 2.1 million who enrolled in 2016 for 2018 coverage.
Observer says the public response has been remarkable, even though the Trump Administration cut the advertising and outreach by 90 percent, hoping to encourage people not to sign up. At the end of the enrollment period on Dec. 15, the total number could still fall behind last year’s figures because the enrollment period was cut from three months to just 45 days.
And in order to qualify for federal tax subsidies to offset the rising cost of health insurance premiums, those seeking to apply should go online to www.healthcare.gov. An estimated – 496,420 residents – 85 percent of those insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBS) through the ACA are eligible for what are known as Advanced Premium Tax Subsidies (APT).
The average ACA health insurance premium is calculated at $662 per month, but after the APT subsidy tax credit kicks in, comes down to just $129 per month, and in some cases, as low as $87 a month.
For more information, call the N.C. Dept. of insurance to speak to a consumer specialist at 1-(855) 408-1212. Remember, the deadline to enroll for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is Friday, Dec. 15.