SITKA — Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins November 1, 2016, and ends January 31, 2017. This year, Moda Health will not be available in Alaska so those insured by that company will need to move to a Premera Blue Cross plan. 

“Many people are nervous that they will not be able to afford a Marketplace plan because the Premera Blue Cross plans were more expensive last year,” said Andrea Thomas, SEARHC Outreach and Enrollment Manager. “The good news is that the assistance from the federal government (premium tax credit) will go up and the majority of people will still be eligible for an affordable plan.”

Additionally, grandfathered plans in Alaska will be ending this year. Grandfathered plans had been exempt from many changes required under the Affordable Care Act for a limited amount of time. Alaskans with one of these plans must switch to other health coverage during this open enrollment period to remain covered in 2017.

People losing their insurance and those currently without health insurance will be able to purchase health coverage during open enrollment. People applying on the Health Insurance Marketplace may be eligible to receive assistance lowering monthly premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, depending on income, age, and family size.

There are three ways to sign up or renew: online at www.healthcare.gov (the official website); call the Health Insurance Marketplace at 1-800-318- 2596, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. SEARHC is a Certified Application Counselor agency offering free assistance to all Southeast residents. SEARHC’s Outreach and Enrollment may be contacted at 966-8883, 966-8662 or toll-free at 1-855-966-8684 Monday through Friday, from 8 am -5 pm.