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The Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes called “Obamacare,” makes health insurance more affordable for millions of people. The next enrollment period runs from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017. It is critical that you enroll if you don’t have insurance. The team at Planned Parenthood Great Plains assembled this helpful guide of important things you should know before you enroll.

1. Financial help is available to lower monthly costs

We know that factoring in another monthly cost like health insurance might feel impossible to do. You might be thinking, “I’m healthy, I don’t need to spend a fortune on health insurance I don’t need.” No one plans to get sick or get stuck with a medical bill that would incur debt for years. The truth is you can’t afford NOT to have health insurance.

Most people are unaware that financial help is available to help lower monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Most people qualify for financial help that gives them coverage for $100 or less a month! Eighty-three percent (83%) of people who enroll through the Health Insurance Marketplace receive this financial assistance. This help is applied on a monthly basis after you enroll in a plan, lowering your out of pocket costs and making coverage affordable.

2. Free, in-person enrollment help is available

Health Insurance can be confusing if you’re not an expert. There are hundreds of terms and policies and laws that can make the process difficult to understand. The good news is that there are free appointments with people who can help, in-person and in your community. These “navigators” will sit down with you face-to-face, answer your questions, walk you through your coverage options, and help you select the best plan for your family.

In Oklahoma, Planned Parenthood Great Plains has health insurance navigators in Oklahoma City and Tulsa to help you enroll! You can call (405) 601-0908 to schedule in Oklahoma City or call (918) 587-4621 to schedule in Tulsa. If you don’t live in Oklahoma, you can head over to https://connector.getcoveredamerica.org to find someone in your community that is certified to sit down with you - for free - and schedule an appointment for help with the enrollment process.

3. Health insurance helps protect both your health and your wallet

You might think that you can’t afford the monthly payment for insurance, but even a minor injury or illness can cost thousands of dollars. When you make the decision to enroll in coverage, it not only helps you stay healthy, but also ensures that if you experience an unexpected illness or injury, you won’t be stuck holding the bill for thousands of dollars. Insurance is valuable both for your family’s health and financial security. And all plans — no matter the cost — cover the important benefits like doctor visits, hospital stays, preventive services like mammograms, and more.

4. If you don’t enroll by the deadline, you may have to pay a fine

The ACA is designed to help every person enroll in affordable coverage. To make that happen, the law requires that everyone to have coverage, either through the Marketplace, Medicaid, their employer, or some other means.

If you don’t get coverage, you might have to pay a fine of $695 per person or more. But by enrolling in coverage not only will you avoid this hefty fine, you’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that you’re protected in case of an accident or illness.

You must enroll before December 15th, 2017 to get health insurance coverage or to renew your Marketplace plan. Don’t miss this deadline and remember there is free, local help if you need it.

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