SEWELL: Deadline nearing for ACA signup

Published 6:51 pm Saturday, November 18, 2017

By Rep. Terri Sewell

Dec. 15 is the deadline to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

I encourage all Alabamians who need to enroll in health insurance or find better coverage for next year to shop in the federal marketplace at HealthCare.gov and take advantage of local resources.

Because of the ACA, millions of people from across the country have gained access to lifesaving healthcare regardless of pre-existing conditions or economic status. During the 2016 enrollment period, 178,000 Alabamians shopped in the Health Insurance Marketplace for health insurance plans that worked for them and their families. Thanks to the ACA, 215,000 Alabamians gained insurance coverage between 2010 and 2015.

Sadly, over the last 10 months, there have been numerous efforts by this Administration to undermine the ACA and prevent more Americans from getting coverage for 2018. The reality is that if fewer Americans have quality health insurance, we all pay the price in higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs.

Despite these attacks, the good news is that a record number of Americans have signed up for health insurance during the weeks of open enrollment so far. The number of people who signed up for healthcare in the federal marketplace more than doubled on the first day of enrollment compared to last year.

I have heard countless stories from my constituents about how healthcare coverage provided by the ACA has transformed life for them and their families. Many of my constituents have gained health insurance coverage for the first time in their lives. Donna, a 63-year old Tuscaloosa resident who suffers from osteoarthritis, hypertension, and kidney disease, was laid off from her job and hospitalized for health issues two years before she reached Medicare eligibility age. Because of the ACA, Donna was able to afford health insurance that covered her treatments and care.

Donna’s story is not unique. Terrance from Selma was able to afford health insurance coverage with the help of cost-sharing subsidies. Once covered, Terrance visited a primary care provider who advised him to get a colonoscopy. Unfortunately, a cancerous tumor was detected but thanks to his health coverage, Terrance received surgery and today lives cancer-free.

These stories prove that it is not enough to simply hope people get access to the healthcare they need and deserve. We must be proactive in making sure all Alabamians are aware of the health insurance options and premium assistance available to them, and that they get covered.

The ACA is not perfect but I know many Alabamians have benefited from coverage and protections provided by this law. We need elected leaders who will put partisan politics aside and improve the law.

The 2018 enrollment period is a great opportunity for Alabamians to shop for new coverage or find better coverage.