Sen. Ned Claxton: Take time to find health coverage this year

I encourage you to make time and find health insurance if you don’t already have it, or review your current plan if you do.

| Sen. Ned Claxton, Guest Columnist – Sun Journal |

Every fall, there is a six-week period known as Open Enrollment, under the Affordable Care Act, when folks have the ability to shop around for a new health insurance plan. And although most of us can’t wait to see the conclusion of 2020, Open Enrollment is something you don’t want to let slip by before the year is up.

Open Enrollment is always a critical time each year; barring any special circumstances such as losing a job, having a child, or getting married, these six weeks are the only time during the year that you can shop around for new coverage. But this year, Open Enrollment, which lasts from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, has taken on even more importance. As we continue our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical to make sure you have a health insurance plan that fits your life.

As a physician, I have seen how vital it is for folks to have coverage so they can get affordable care when they need it. Though health issues almost always take us by surprise, even during normal times, this pandemic has led to more uncertainty than ever. That’s why making sure you get health insurance now is so important. Should an issue arise, COVID-19 related or not, you will be thankful you took the time to get covered. Even if you already have health insurance, please don’t ignore the Open Enrollment period. Now is the time to review your current coverage, decide if it has worked well for you and your family, and pick a new plan if needed. You could be surprised at how affordable some of the options out there are. You may qualify for a free or low-cost plan, and many plans may cost less this year than last. To learn more and begin looking at plans, you can visit healthcare.gov.

I understand that for many, this all sounds like a lot and can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there are people who are here to help. In Maine, we have a group called Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care, which advocates for Mainers and helps them find affordable, quality health coverage. They help folks in various ways and do it at no cost. Their services include helping people find affordable coverage, understanding the health insurance marketplace, enrolling in MaineCare, and more.

I know that we’re in the middle of the holiday season and you have plenty of other things on your mind. But I encourage you, one more time, to make time and find health insurance if you don’t already have it, or review your current plan if you do. This might be your only opportunity until next year to shop around for a different plan or to sign up.

Sen. Ned Claxton of Auburn is a retired family physician currently serving his second term in the Maine Senate.

Maine Consumers for Affordable Health Care: For help finding health care coverage, call the Maine CAHC helpline on weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The toll-free number is 1-800-965-7465. To learn more about CAHC or to sign up for a webinar, go to mainecahc.org.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this opinion piece are solely those of the author. Publication does not reflect endorsement by the NGXchange or its volunteers. NGX welcomes diverse viewpoints and invites your submissions. Learn more here.