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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A major part of the Affordable Care Act is about to start again. Here’s what you need to know.

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Starting Oct. 15, roughly 9 million people enrolled in Obamacare plans through the federal and state marketplaces will begin selecting plans for the next year.

The 15-month open enrollment period will give consumers a chance to tweak their health care choices and receive information about changes in their coverage. This year, consumers will still be able to see if they need to switch insurers, or add a health care plan.

In recent weeks, officials from the federal marketplace had emphasized changes in tax credits and provider networks, but there is no indication that consumers will see big changes in their premiums, which are set through several complex calculations in a patient’s medical history and will include many additional factors, such as age, geographic location and family income.

“It’s nice to be able to talk about big changes, but I don’t think that’s what consumers look for,” said Carrie McLean, the director of the Navigator Project at Enroll America, a nonprofit that organizes enrollment events. “I think it’s what they’re looking for is more about taking a fresh look at their health care.”

It is also likely that average premium increases will still be relatively modest, and that prices for skimpier plans will continue to vary widely.

Small businesses, meanwhile, will be able to find out in coming weeks whether they will be able to keep HealthCare.gov exchanges because of a glitch caused by website problems. Businesses that hire new employees but currently have several full-time employees in the state exchanges will not be able to find out.

The open enrollment period will begin a week after the Nov. 1 kick-off for 2019 enrollment by the federal marketplace. Individual states, including New York, are managing their own marketplace programs, with open enrollment periods that run parallel to the federal open enrollment period. For 2019, California will have a two-month period with the option to shop on either federal website.

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