ACA enrollment begins Wednesday, but the clock is ticking, officials say

Enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, now in its fifth year, begins tomorrow, and Mayor Greg Fischer and Congressman John Yarmuth are trying to get the word out with some urgency.

Despite all the talk from the Trump administration and Congress about killing Obamacare, as the ACA is known, they said, it remains the law of the land.

ACA open enrollment | Courtesy Louisville Mayor

“ACA. Obamacare. Health insurance. Peace of mind. What ever you call it, it’s still available,” the mayor tweeted.

This year, however, participants need to be mindful, enrollment ends Dec. 15, a period about six weeks shorter than last year. (As a resource, Kaiser Health News offers “5 Things to Know About ACA at Year 5.”)

When it comes to the ACA, the one thing to understand is that “people are getting healthier in the city and state,” the mayor said during a press conference on Monday. “Our rate of uninsurance has dropped from 18 percent in 2013 to 5.8 percent in 2016. That’s a big deal, in terms of giving people peace of mind,” he said.

More people are getting health screenings for things like breast cancer and high blood pressure, Fischer said, and death rates for cancer, heart disease and diabetes are going down.

Congressman John Yarmuth, who also spoke Monday, said: “This is a very important time period for health care in the country. The Trump administration has done everything they could to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.”

For example, he noted that the enrollment period had been cut in half by the administration and that the advertising budget had been slashed.

Even so, Yarmuth said, nothing has changed about the system. For those who make up to 138 percent of poverty level, he said, they still qualify for expanded Medicaid. Those majority of people shopping for individual insurance on, some 80 percent, are eligible for a government subsidy. Even though premiums have increased this year, he added, the end costs to most citizens will not increase because subsidies are set up to match increases in premiums.

Residents can go to right now to shop around, he said, adding if they are already covered, they do not have to re-enroll. “If you’re happy with what you have, you don’t have to do anything, you’re already enrolled.” If not, he said, “You got to get at it, you have only six weeks to do it.”