Open enrollment: Big changes this year - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Open enrollment: Big changes this year

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WSIL -- Wednesday marked the start of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and there are big changes this year.

The biggest difference is the length of the enrollment period, which is shorter.

This year, people only have 45 days (until Dec. 15th) to sign up for health care coverage, as opposed to three months in previous years.

Another change is publicity. 

Most Americans did not hear as much about open enrollment this year, because the Trump administration cut the open enrollment advertisement budget by 90 percent, citing declining enrollment figures.

Democrats like J.B. Pritzker, who is running for governor of Illinois, called the cut a deliberate attempt to sabotage Obamacare.

"One of the ways Trump is trying to kill Obamacare is by eliminating advertising telling people how to sign up," Pritzker said in a new campaign video.

Former President Barack Obama also released a video on Wednesday, reminding people to sign-up for health coverage next year.

According to Sarah Miller, clinical case management coordinator at Shawnee Health Service, another change that might happen this year is whether people who started enrolling will be allowed to finish after the deadline.

They were allowed to in previous years, according to Miller.

 "I'm not sure they're going to have that this year, so we are encouraging people to get in as soon as possible," said Miller.

Everything hasn't changed.

Subsidies are still available, so premiums should remain the same for qualified individuals, and there shouldn't be any changes to benefits.

"All the benefits are the same," said Miller. "You still have the essential heath benefits. It has to cover prescription medications, hospitalizations, transportation to appointments 2:39 behavioral health and substance abuse services. That's  all remained the same."

People can also compare plans before they sign up for coverage.

For more information, or to sign up for coverage, call or visit any Shawnee Health Service office, or visit the federal health exchange or the Illinois exchange websites.

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