New rule cuts Obamacare enrollment period in half

Michael Ronnebaum
October 10, 2017 - 7:27 am

People who want to sign up for health care coverage through the federal government will have a shorter period to do so than in years past.

As in previous years, open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act begins Nov. 1 for health coverage in 2018, but instead of continuing through January, enrollment ends Dec. 15.

Federal health officials recommend users sign up as soon as possible, said Mark Whiting, pricipal at Mercer, a business management consulting firm in Kansas City.

"It's been three months in the past, this year it's been reduced to six weeks," Whiting said. "Seems there'll still be ample time for people to look for coverage and to sign up, but it's caught a lot of interest from the marketplace because it's been cut in half," Whiting said.

Trump administration critics say the shorter enrollment period is part of an effort to make it more difficult to sign up for Obamacare. The official reason for the change is to allow the ACA to more closely align with enrollment periods with Medicare and the private market. 

The healthcare website will be down for maintenance every Sunday morning with the exception of Dec. 10.

"There could be some issues with the development of the systems, if they can really handle as many people signing up that late in the game; could be a problem," Whiting said.

Some states that run their own health insurance exchanges have extended their open enrollment periods beyond the Dec. 15 deadline. Kansas and Missouri are not among those states.

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