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Time is short to apply for marketplace health insurance

N-Deadline-for-health-insuranceBy Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

The deadline is looming for uninsured Michigan residents to enroll in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Sunday, Jan. 31, is the last day of the 2016 open enrollment period. But as Erin Knott, Michigan director of Enroll America, says folks don’t have to go it alone.

Trained navigators are available in every community, and they can guide people through their coverage options.

“There’s in-person assistance and events going on across the state,” she explains. “We encourage everybody to take a look, to shop the plans, and to hook up with an expert who can walk them through the process.”

Knott adds that nearly eight out of 10 people who apply for insurance through the marketplace will qualify for financial assistance to help pay the monthly premium.

Those who do not have health coverage this year will face a federal penalty of either 2.5 percent of their income or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.

Knott points out that some people may qualify for a special enrollment period.

“That’s when you have a qualifying life circumstance that would make you eligible to obtain insurance through the marketplace outside of the open enrollment period,” she says. “And those types of things are marriage, birth, adoption, job change, things like that.”

Knott adds as a result of coverage options between the Healthy Michigan Plan and the marketplace, the number of uninsured people in Michigan fell from 11 percent in 2013 to 8.5 percent in 2014.

“Around 900,000 folks have been insured,” she points out. “And what’s really exciting is this year, HHS has reported that more young adults, those critical 18-to-34-year-olds, are enrolling in the marketplace at higher numbers than previously.”

Those who enroll by the end-of-January deadline will have coverage starting March 1.

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