Utahns have another chance to enroll in Affordable Care Act marketplace

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns who missed open enrollment for the federal Affordable Care Act marketplace have a second chance. Normally, sign-up is just once a year.

The federal exchange website reopened sign-ups for another three months, giving uninsured Americans plenty of time to explore health insurance options.

"This is an open door for anyone who is uninsured or underinsured," Stanford explained to KSL-TV. "If you're currently in an aca plan and you want to make changes, this is a really wide open enrollment period."

President Joe Biden issued an executive order for the special enrollment period that starts Monday on healthcare.gov and runs through May 15.

Normally, certain life events trigger a special enrollment, but not for this. All uninsured Utahns can apply.

"A lot of families may not realize that they can get help paying for this," Stanford said.

Officials from the Utah Health Policy Project said they have been advocating for the marketplace to open back up during the pandemic.

"We're really happy to see this, because we know that this public health crisis has also been an economic crisis and people are losing their jobs, and in the United States, our access to health insurance is very connected to our employment," said Stacy Stanford with the organization.

In 2020, almost 90 percent of Utahns qualified for subsidies through the Marketplace, according to the Utah Health Policy Project.

"A lot of families may not realize that they can get help paying for this," Stanford said.

Families of four making up to $104,800 annually are still eligible for help paying the monthly premiums. Free help with the application and plan selection is available in multiple languages through virtual appointments.

Utahns who need assistance applying can book a free, virtual appointment through the Utah Health Policy Project website.

Utah has one of the highest rates for uninsured children in the country.

"We now rank 46th when it comes to insuring kids," said Jessie Mandle, a senior health policy analyst with Voices for Utah Children. "We have one of the highest rates of uninsured kids in the nation."

An estimated 82,000 kids in Utah are going without health insurance, according to Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. Advocates hope this special enrollment period will help bring the number down.

"It really provides an opportunity for parents to get insured and make sure their kids get insured, too," Mandle said. "This will allow more families to get enrolled and it will also help families learn about other options that they might not know they were even eligible for."

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