Health News

The Portlander’s Guide to Obamacare Open Enrollment

Need health care? You have fewer than 45 days left to sign up.

By Tuck Woodstock November 2, 2017

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Visit between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 to buy health insurance for 2018.

Donald Trump may be determined to kill the Affordable Care Act, but as of November 1, it’s alive and open for business. If you and your family already has health insurance through an employer, Medicare, the Oregon Health Plan (our state’s version of Medicaid), or CHIP, congratulations! But if not, keep reading…

How much time do I have to enroll?

This year, Oregonians have only 45 days to enroll through the federal health insurance marketplace. In order to be covered in 2018, participants must enroll by December 15, 2017. 

What does my insurance cover?

Every plan on the marketplace is required to cover essential health benefits like pregnancy, mental health services, and prescription drug coverage, as well as pre-existing conditions from asthma to cancer. In addition, most plans cover a set of preventive health services (like shots and screening tests) at no cost to you! 

Will the government subsidize my insurance?

That depends on your household income and the number of people in your household. has a helpful calculator to help you determine which programs you’ll qualify, but generally speaking, single and childless Oregonians with an estimated 2018 income of below $16,643 will qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, while (single and childless) folks with a household income of more than $48,240 will have to buy a plan at full price. Everyone in between can expect subsidized monthly premiums.

Again, this changes based on the number of people in your household, so a family of four can make up to $98,400 and still qualify for tax credits. Check out the calculator for more information about where to apply.

What do I do if I don’t qualify for tax credits?

You have four options: buying a full-price plan from the federal marketplace; buying directly from an insurance company; buying through an insurance agent or broker; and buying from an online health insurance seller. In any case, you’ll still want to buy by December 15. More information is available here

What happens if I don’t sign up by December 15?

You may pay a hefty fee called the “individual shared responsibility payment.” Plus, you won’t have health insurance starting January 1, 2018! So it’s a lose-lose, really. However, you may qualify for an exemption—to find out, use this tool.

Can someone help me?!

Sure thing! There are all sorts of folks who would be happy to help you for free. This includes health insurance agents, Medicare agents, community partners, and volunteers. Local groups like the Cascade AIDS Project, IRCO, NARA, and the Urban League of Portland have assistants who are particularly knowledgeable about the Oregon Health Plan, and can help you sign up. Use this tool to find help near you.

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