This month marked the beginning of the enrollment period for New Mexico's Health Insurance Exchange, and with Congressional Republicans having largely backed off of repealing Obamacare—the federal program that lets eligible people purchase a health plan from a private insurer listed on the government's exchanges—potential enrollees can expect a process similar to past year's.
The enrollment in New Mexico this year lasts until Dec. 15. Over 54,000 people applied for coverage and almost 50,000 selected plans through the exchange last year, according to beWellnm, the name of New Mexico's exchange program.
One of the biggest changes potential enrollees may notice is a drop in the monthly premiums they pay, regardless of which health plans they choose. According to the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, people who receive insurance through the exchanges will see up to a 24 percent decrease in premiums. The average drop across all insurance plans is anticipated to be a 4 percent.
This is a big difference from last year, when premiums rose for all insurance plans offered on the exchange. The insurers on the exchange for this coming year include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, CHRISTUS Health Plan, Molina Health Care of New Mexico, Inc. and New Mexico Health Connections.
Last year, the Office of Superintendent of Insurance unveiled the website OSICompareHealthPlans.org, where people can find plans by inputting doctor and medicine preferences. The website features some coverage plans that aren't available just by searching healthcare.gov. At least for now, though, New Mexicans signing up for insurance through the exchange still have to do it on healthcare.gov, or through the insurer directly.
You might have also heard that the tax law signed by President Trump last year eliminated Obamacare's "individual mandate," which penalizes eligible, non-insured people with a fee if they don't sign up for health insurance through the exchanges—but the mandate is still in effect this year. It won't be eliminated until 2019.
beWellnm will host an event Santa Fe on Nov. 8 to offer guidance for the enrollment process. Local brokers will be present to help people "identify any premium subsidies that individuals might be eligible for," according to beWellnm.
beWellnm Open House and Infosession
3-6 pm Thursday Nov. 8. Free. Rafael Acosta Independent Broker, 145 Washington Ave.; other events available at bewellnm.com.