Health insurance enrollment period opens Saturday

Health insurance enrollment period opens Saturday
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Nebraskans can once again sign up for health insurance
under the federal health care law, starting Saturday. Some things to keep in mind:

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3 MONTHS TO ENROLL

Open enrollment started on Saturday and will continue through Feb. 15. Nebraskans who want coverage by Jan. 1 must sign up by Dec. 15 at the latest.

The federal government is once again using the website healthcare.gov to help residents shop for insurance. The website was plagued with problems at its launch but has since been streamlined. Amber Hansen, executive director of Community Action of Nebraska, says her group initially experienced technical problems during the first enrollment period, but the website now runs smoothly.

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PAST ENROLLMENT

Nearly 43,000 Nebraskans signed up for health insurance in the six months after the federal marketplace first began accepting applicants. More than 40 percent of those customers enrolled during a last-minute surge in March, near the end of
the enrollment period. Groups that are helping sign residents up predict a similar surge at the end of the upcoming period.

Of those who successfully enrolled in Nebraska, 87 percent qualified for federal assistance to help pay for their plans.

Nebraska is among 37 states relying on the federal website to enroll residents in the health marketplace, which is part of the federal health care law. Nationally, more than 8 million people had signed up by the end of the first national enrollment period.

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OUTREACH

Community Action of Nebraska offices throughout the state are working to encourage uninsured residents to enroll. Those who signed up last year can also change their plan during the enrollment period.

In addition to the website, local health insurance navigators can be found at canhelp.org/map or by calling 402-471-3714. The navigators are available to help individuals, families and small businesses buy health insurance through the marketplace.

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PENALTIES

Those who don’t have insurance coverage in 2015 will face a tax penalty of $325
or 2 percent of their annual household income, whichever is higher. The fee for
uninsured minors is $162.50 per child, up to a maximum of $975 per family.

The fees will grow over time, to a minimum of $695 in 2016.

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