This year’s Affordable Care Act enrollment period is all about exploring the options

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Joanie Keehn is a licensed insurance agent with HealthMarkets Insurance Agency. During the ACA enrollment period, she will help hundreds of Northeast Ohioans understand their options under the new tax code change. Here’s what you need to know about Affordable Care Act coverage for 2019. (Photography: Benjamin Margalit)

By Beth Newcomb

Although Barack has departed and Donald taken his place, nothing about Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) for 2019 has changed. People without employer sponsored healthcare are required to have health insurance under the law.

But there is an interesting wrinkle that falls outside the governance of the act that may have people who participate in the Affordable Care Act breathing a collective sigh of relief.

According to Joanie Keehn, a licensed insurance agent with HealthMarkets Insurance Agency, the tax penalty associated with avoiding coverage under the ACA has been eliminated by President Trump.

“The individual mandate on the tax penalty has gone away for 2019, which means you won’t be assessed on your 2019 taxes,” she says. “This is a tax code change, not an ACA change, but it obviously impacts everyone covered under the Affordable Care Act.”

What that tax change means to people who currently subscribe to ACA coverage is they now have the freedom to change to a non-ACA governed plan if it makes better sense.

“People with pre-existing conditions and those who are subsidy eligible still fit into the ACA mold and may want to continue their coverage,” Joanie explains. “Healthy people who are not eligible for a subsidy may want to consider a plan that falls outside of the ACA. It could save them some money.”

If you are on an ACA plan right now, it makes sense to schedule a free review with Joanie to see if that plan is still the right fit. If it is, she’ll tell you. If it isn’t, she’ll help you determine which coverage option better fits your needs.

“Many of the carriers and networks under the ACA are still the same,” Joanie says.

“ACA plans like Medical Mutual do a great job of including all of the things a healthcare plan should include, like standard essential benefits and access to doctors and hospitals in your area. They also offer preventative coverage options, and things like maternity care if you need them. These plans offer really excellent benefits and some people will want to stick with what they’ve got.”

“For others, the benefits under their existing ACA plan may exceed what they really need,” Joanie continues.

“Under the new tax law, it’s possible to pick a plan that falls outside of the ACA and still includes coverage you need and can use—saving you money without the tax penalty. We can also offer optional products that can help with gaps in your coverage.”

The point is, the new tax code change expands your options, and Joanie can help you to determine which one is best for you and your family. The best part is, a review with Joanie, her time, and her guidance are all free of charge.

“The enrollment period, which runs from Thursday, November 1, until Saturday, December 15, is still the law,” Joanie says.

“People who want or need ACA coverage still need to follow the enrollment dates, or they need to change plans. With me, you’ll have the power to learn about all of your options, and you can feel confident that the plan you’re in, or perhaps another plan, is the best fit for you and your family. You have the power to choose.”

Because Joanie is a licensed insurance agent with HealthMarkets, she has access to a number of different plans. In fact, HealthMarkets offers coverage under nearly all of the major carriers, so you don’t need to sit down with more than one agent. Meeting with Joanie is a one-and-done.

“Everyone needs health insurance coverage,” she says.

“The difference I can offer is that my services are free of charge, and I can provide access to carriers some other agents cannot. I can help you determine if you should elect coverage outside of the ACA, or if staying with the ACA makes better sense.”

Another reason for the review is if in the past you didn’t qualify for a tax subsidy, in 2019 you might. The time it takes to determine if you’re in the right plan is about an hour.

Meet Joanie Keehn
Joanie grew up in Geneva, which is currently the place she calls home. She and her husband of five years, Kevin, are raising two daughters: Chayla, 19, and Cierra, 18.

As a family connected to nature, Joanie says she and her brood spend as much time as they can outdoors, but they also give back. When out kayaking or on nature walks, they make it a point to clean up any litter they find.

Joanie is actively involved in the women’s ministry at her church. At HealthMarkets, she works with a team of four other agents at her Madison-based storefront and says helping people is one of the best perks of the job.

Joanie Keehn of HealthMarkets Insurance Agency has a storefront at 3104 Hubbard Road, in Madison. Hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., appointments preferred; Saturday, Sunday and evening hours by appointment. The phone number is 440-536-1228.

HealthMarkets Insurance Agency, Inc. is licensed as an insurance agency in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Not all agents are licensed to sell all products. Service and product availability varies by state. No cost or obligation to enroll. Agents may be compensated based on enrollment. HMIA006194