MICHIGAN — Open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, opened Saturday, Nov. 15, marking one year since the buggy healthcare.gov website debuted to big fanfare and even bigger complaints.
Following the bumpy roll out of the federal government's website in 2014, when the exchange was plagued with major technical problems the Obama administration is making big promises the site will work as planned this year.
“We've spent the last year improving and upgrading HealthCare.gov, to make it faster and easier to use," Obama said in his weekly presidential address.
The administration is under pressure to make sure 'Obamacare 2.0' runs smoothly. While 7.3 million people were enrolled this year, the goal for 2015 is 13 million, with an enrollment period just half the length.
37 states are using the federal exchange for 2015.
While individuals should notice a better user experience on the site, there are also several other changes to keep in mind if you plan to enroll.
- Penalties for not enrolling have doubled or tripled in some cases
- Enrollment period is shorter for 2015
- More available providers in Michigan, means more options for consumers
- Individuals who enrolled last year might have to re-enroll again
Compared to last year, penalties for individuals choosing to go without insurance have doubled and tripled in some cases. For an adult, the flat rate penalty has increased from $95 to $325. And for a family, it's gone up from $285 to $975.
This year's enrollment period is also three months shorter, running from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. Individuals wanting their insurance to take effect Jan.1 must apply by Dec. 15. For those who wait until after Dec. 15, their insurance will take effect on the first day of the following month.
In Michigan, there will now be 16 insurers on the website available to choose from, as opposed to the 12 insurers available in 2014.
For individuals looking for more information on help with enrollment in the Grand Rapids area, Cherry Health Services will be providing enrollment assistance events through February. In the Kalamazoo area, Enroll Kalamazoo County will be offering several free enrollment events.
Locations offering help with enrollment can also be found using the HealthCare.gov website's 'find local help' tool.