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How to choose an Obamacare health care plan for 2023

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Uninsured Northwestern Pennsylvania residents who are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid now have the option for the 10th consecutive year to obtain health insurance through the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Erie County residents can choose from 96 different insurance plans for 2023 coverage, while Crawford County residents can choose from 51 plans. They are offered by Highmark, UPMC and United Healthcare.

The plans aren’t free, but nine out of ten people receive grants extended through 2025 by the government’s inflation reduction law. Those grants lower the monthly cost of subscriptions to less than $75 for 40% of Pennsylvania subscribers.

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Am I eligible for an ACA plan?

You are eligible for health insurance through the ACA if you are a U.S. citizen, not in prison, and not eligible for Medicare.

People or families who qualify for health insurance through an employer can still purchase an ACA plan, but they are not eligible for subsidies if coverage is considered affordable — less than 9.2% of household income.

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If you are determined to be eligible for Medicaid during the enrollment process, you will be prompted to enroll in that government program instead of an ACA plan.

How do I sign up for an ACA subscription?

In Pennsylvania, people can enroll in an ACA plan by visiting cent.com. It is a website that the Pennsylvania Insurance Department created in 2020 to enroll residents in ACA plans.

People can also call 844-844-8040 to talk to one of Pennie’s customer service representatives.

Before you begin your application, you will need the following items:

  • Photo ID
  • Citizen service number
  • Four weeks of pay slips
  • Most recent tax return
  • Immigration documents, if applicable

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Which health plan should I choose?

The health plan you choose depends on several factors, including the cost of the monthly premium, the out-of-pocket amounts, and the doctors, hospitals, and prescription drugs that are included.

ACA plans are grouped into four basic categories:

  • Platinum (highest premiums, lowest deductible)
  • Gold (higher premiums, lower deductible)
  • Silver (lower premiums, higher deductible)
  • Bronze (lowest premium, highest deductible)

You can compare plans without entering your personal information, but you must submit to select a plan. You should have a list of your prescription medications and your doctors when comparing plans.

The site gives you a cost estimate of how much you could expect to pay for the year if you select that particular plan.

“We encourage consumers to research and compare plans to find coverage that best fits their needs and provides robust benefits for themselves and their families,” said Acting Pennsylvania Commissioner of Insurance Michael Humphreys in a press release.

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When is the deadline for choosing a plan?

The deadline for selecting an ACA plan for 2023 is January 15, but if you want coverage starting January 1, you must choose a plan before December 15.

People experiencing a “life-defining event” can choose a plan at other times of the year. These events include losing your existing health insurance policy, getting divorced, moving house, or a change in income that affects the coverage you qualify for.

Contact David Bruce at dbruce@timesnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNBruce.

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