By Kylla Benes

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or ‘Obamacare’, has allowed more than
11 million Americans to purchase private healthcare coverage, with 86 percent of these people qualifying to receive some sort of financial assistance to pay for health insurance. One key aspect of the ACA is the Marketplace, the platform through which Americans can buy insurance. State and federal marketplaces allow individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance that is ACA compliant, and helps people access subsidies that can defray the cost of plans.

Key changes to ACA programming that all Americans should be aware of include:

  • The period to make any changes to your health plan is November 1 to December 15; six weeks shorter than the previous three years. For citizens over the age of 65 who have or want Medicare, the open enrollment period is October 15 to December 7. These dates are important because, barring certain exceptions, this is the only period in which you can make changes to your healthcare plan.
  • Automatic re-enrollment for Marketplace customers will occur on December 16, and consumers who did not make changes during open enrollment will remain in their current plans.
  • Health insurance companies, like Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross, have decided to leave or limit coverage that is offered in the Marketplace. This means that customers will have fewer choices of insurance providers. How limited your choices are will vary by state.
  • Plans are predicted to rise by 20% on average due to a gap between healthcare costs and insurer company income. Funding for different forms of assistance, such as cost-sharing reduction subsidies, have been reduced or cut entirely. This means that some customers may not be able to afford even the cheapest (bronze-level) plans. If you find yourself in this position, and do not purchase health coverage, you may be exempt from paying a tax penalty.


Most states manage and implement their own ACA-compliant marketplaces, and the numbers and dates given here may vary, depending on where you live. Even if you intend to keep your current insurance plan, you should contact your insurance provider to learn about and understand any changes that may occur in 2018. Please share this information with your friends and family. All Americans deserve the opportunity to access quality, affordable healthcare.