CHICAGO (WBBM Newsradio) — If you don’t have health insurance, and haven’t signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act, you have until the end of the day Friday to enroll for a plan in 2018.
Health care navigators and application counselors have been very busy lately, as the Open Enrollment period for coverage under the Affordable Care Act was six weeks shorter this year than in 2016.
With a Friday night deadline to sign up for insurance under the program also known as Obamacare, teams have been swamped processing last-minute enrollments, according to Stephani Becker, senior policy specialist for the Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law.
“People tend to wait till the last minute, so the next 24 hours or so are going to be really busy,” she said.
Even with the last minute push, there appeared to be a significant dropoff in enrollment this year, according to Becker. Only 168,000 people have signed up in Illinois, according to the Shriver Center’s latest numbers.
“We have a long way to go to make up the difference. Last year, 356,000 people signed up in total,” Becker said.
She attributed part of the dropoff to people not knowing about the shorter enrollment period. President Donald Trump cut funding to advertise the shorter enrollment period by 90 percent, as he sought to repeal and replace Obamacare – so far, without success.
Becker explained what options people have if they still haven’t signed up for coverage through the ACA exchanges.
“Go to healthcare.gov and sign up there. If they want to do that on their own, they can also go to GetIllinoisCovered.gov, which also this year has its own portal, and people can shop there and be connected to a licensed broker through the state of Illinois. As well, they can go to GetCoveredIllinois.gov and find a navigator,” she said.
Those who enrolled for ACA coverage last year will be re-enrolled automatically on Saturday. New signups have until 2 a.m. Chicago time.