You're Running Out Of Time To Sign Up For Obamacare. Here's What You Need To Do.

Photographed by Megan Madden.
The deadline to sign up for healthcare coverage through the Affordable Care Act next year is fast approaching. In case you didn't know, the open enrollment period for 2019 ends this Saturday, December 15.
For several reasons — including a drop in the unemployment rate, the Trump administration loosening restrictions for skimpier coverage, and the lack of advertising around the sign up period — enrollment is down nearly 11% compared to this period in 2018. But if you're interested in obtaining health coverage through Obamacare, we have all the information you need to know.
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Who can sign up: Anyone who doesn't get health insurance through their employer, and is not a Medicaid or Medicare beneficiary, can be covered in 2019 through the Obamacare exchanges. Coverage kicks off January 1.
What is the process like: You should visit healthcare.gov or call 800-318-2596 to sign up for an Obamacare exchange health plan. Getting help to fill out the application in-person is also an option, and you can go here for more information. Some of the details you need to provide when applying include age, income, and wherever you already have health insurance. Here you can find an application checklist telling you everything you need to have at hand, especially for those who require financial assistance. After weighing your options, the last step is to choose a health plan and enroll. Something to remember is that those who already are covered through Obamacare will be automatically re-enrolled. If you want to change your plan, you must do so before the deadline.
What's the enrollment deadline: Thirty nine states use the federal marketplace. If you live in one of those, you need to enroll before or on December 15. The remaining 11 states that run their own exchanges have their own deadlines. If you're not sure which category your home state falls in, you can go here for more information.
Why you need health insurance coverage: Last year's Republican tax bill repealed one of Obamacare mandate which made those without health insurance pay a penalty at tax time. But that shouldn't be reason enough to go uninsured in 2019: Not having health insurance could mean you will not have access to preventive, primary, or follow-up care unless you pay thousands, or hundreds of thousands, in medical bills. Unexpected medical costs have been found to sometimes lead to bankruptcy. Better to be safe than sorry!
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