Open enrollment: Though embattled, the ACA stands and residents should access it starting today

Monday, Nov. 20, 2017 6:37 PM

It’s complicated. In his late February comments describing the complexity of health care, President Donald Trump got it right. But that’s about the only time. Prior to being sworn in as president, Trump promised “insurance for everybody.”

Not only have his most recent plans to end the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments to insurance carriers and hospitals undermined this guarantee, they have made a complex matter worse.

The GOP’s continued war on the Affordable Care Act has further muddied the public’s understanding of a difficult subject and, after several failed attempts, they are no closer to presenting a viable option to fulfill the president’s promise.

The ACA is still the law of the land, and Nov. 1 kicked off the open enrollment period for Colorado residents to sign up for health care coverage via Connect for Health Colorado (, our state health care exchange. And we encourage it.

Those with coverage should also review their existing plan as they may see as much as a 20 percent decrease in premiums this year.

Open enrollment runs through Jan.12, but individuals seeking to be covered by Jan. 1 must enroll by Dec. 15.

The ACA substantially decreased the number of Americans without insurance and considerably increased access to care for those gaining coverage. Having health insurance is the No. 1 one predictor of access to care and an individual’s ability to reach their full health potential.

Health care coverage provides access to more than 15 preventative services (without charging a copayment or coinsurance and regardless of whether one’s yearly deductible has been met) including annual exams, vaccinations, cancer, diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, counseling and more. It helps to avoid costly emergency department visits and financial devastation should a major health event or chronic disease occur.

Though the ACA requires it, some people are foregoing coverage because they think they cannot afford it or the penalty is less than the annual premium, but health coverage guides say most people seeking coverage qualify for a tax credit and strongly recommend checking out what is available.

Individuals making less than $47,500 annually, and a family of four making less than $97,500 a year, do qualify. Also, the CSR payments for individuals that rise with premiums are not affected by the president’s recent actions.

Fortunately, for the 10.6 percent of Southwest Colorado residents without insurance there are local resources to help navigate the enrollment process.

Do not delay seeking it. Your health may depend upon it. See for more information.