Time Running Out for PA Health Insurance Sign-Ups

By Emily Scott, Public News Service
for The Post

HARRISBURG PA – Pennsylvania residents have until next week to enroll in a health plan through “Pennie,” the state’s health-insurance marketplace.

Under American Rescue Plan legislation, the marketplace extended until Aug. 15 a COVID-19 special enrollment period for anyone who is uninsured or under-insured. The federal stimulus package also eliminated the cap to obtain financial assistance to help pay for insurance. Previously, under the Affordable Care Act, residents were eligible for help only if they earned less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Find enrollment information here.

Joanne Grossi, Pennsylvania state director for AARP, said affordable insurance much more accessible because the financial support lasts through 2022.

“The Pennsylvania Insurance Department is telling us right now that 72 percent of people enrolled in the marketplace are paying $50 a month or less for their premiums, and 50 percent are paying only $1 a month or less for their premiums,” Grossi reported. “So this is a really important time to make sure you enroll in the marketplace.”

Nearly 700,000 people in Pennsylvania reportedly lack health insurance.

So far, Grossi noted, the special enrollment period appears to be a one-time-only offer. However, if at any point during the year any individuals ensure a so-called “qualifying life event,” they would be able to get coverage through the marketplace even outside open enrollment. These events include losing income, losing health coverage, getting married, having a child, getting divorced, and other events.

Trained counselors are available to help for people who may need assistance in finding a plan that’s right for them, she added.

“This is free assistance for you. People on the other end of the phone, or in person, or on the other end of the computer … can give you free, neutral advice,” Grossi explained. “Because again, you want to know if your doctor is in a network, (and) what amount of money can you afford for a premium. It’s very complicated.”

Pennie’s annual open-enrollment period normally runs from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15.

Photo via Adobe Stock, supplied by Public News Service and used under license