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The Insider's Guide to Obamacare's Open Enrollment

LAKEVILLE, Minn., Oct. 29, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ever since the troubled launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces in 2013, enrollment processes have been constantly improving in not only the federally facilitated marketplaces and state-run exchanges – but even off-exchange.

After a sluggish launch, an estimated 7.88 million Americans have enrolled in qualified individual health insurance plans. More insurance carriers are also offering plans in the exchanges – and in many states, premiums are decreasing.

That's all great news, but it does mean that ACA's second open enrollment – which starts November 15 – will likely be a flurry of activity as millions of already enrolled Americans re-enroll and millions more enroll in qualified health plans for the first time.

Never fear; health reform expert Louise Norris, who has authored more than 120 articles about the health reform law for healthinsurance.org, has written a 38-page guide designed to make enrollment a breeze.

The Insider's Guide to Obamacare's Open Enrollment (2014-2015) is filled with insider information designed to give consumers a head start on health plan shopping before November 15 – and then shorten the time they spend in the application process. Readers can download the guide FREE simply by providing a valid email address, where they'll receive a download link.

It's definitely time to enroll – or re-enroll

Norris, a licensed agent for more than a decade, has been studying the Affordable Care Act and its provisions for years – and has been closely monitoring private plan enrollment for the past year. This fall, the author also personally interviewed representatives of each state-run marketplace and HealthCare.gov to assess exchange improvement efforts that will make enrollment more consumer friendly.

Based on those interviews, Norris is optimistic as "Round Two" of open enrollment draws near. In fact, the concerted effort to improve the exchanges is one of "10 reasons why it's time to enroll" – the introductory chapter of her new guide.

Different avenues to coverage

There's no question in the author's mind that all Americans should have affordable, comprehensive medical insurance, but as she points out in her book, there are different routes to coverage.

For instance, in "Do you have to enroll in an exchange," she dispels the misconception that consumers have to purchase a qualified health plan through the marketplaces. And, in the chapter, "Re-enrolling: Should I stay or should I go?" she notes that consumers already enrolled will have re-enrollment requirements that vary depending on the state where they're enrolled.

Norris says that many Americans will likely be surprised when they read, "Can you keep your grandmothered plan?" In that chapter, she reveals that – again, depending on their state – people who are enrolled in a "grandmothered," non-compliant plan may be able to re-enroll in the same plan.

Saving money, saving time

Regardless of whether they plan to enroll or re-enroll, Norris says readers will want to read the chapters with tips for "shopping" carefully – and beating the enrollment crush.

"Looking beyond the lowest premium," gives readers a step-by-step process for selecting a plan that's not based solely on the lowest premium, but on all coverage costs – from deductibles to co-pays and co-insurance. The chapter, "5 ways to beat the open enrollment crush" advises readers to "work ahead" on research that doesn't have to wait – such as comparing premiums, benefits and provider networks.

Her chapter, "How to spend less time enrolling" lists time-saving enrollment strategies – some as obvious as asking for help by phone or in-person. And, if readers do decide to seek personal assistance, "Agents and brokers and navigators … Oh my!" will help them decide which way to turn.

No reason to wait

Norris says that as an agent, she doesn't find it unusual for individuals and families to be concerned about choosing a health insurance policy with the benefits they need ... or to worry that decent coverage will be too expensive.

"My hope is that readers will gain reassurance that the health law is actually going to give them more options – and more affordable options – for solid coverage," Norris says, "but also that the enrollment process doesn't have to be long and frustrating."

About healthinsurance.org

Created in 1994, healthinsurance.org is one of the longest running sources of in-depth information about health insurance. The site was designed to be a resource for Americans who – for whatever reason – had difficulty obtaining health insurance on the private market.
Today, the site and its team of expert contributors are focused intently on health reform. Together with writers from other health care advocacy groups we endeavor to educate Americans about the health care system and to give them a thorough understanding of how the Affordable Care Act will improve their lives and to help dispel myths and scare tactics about the law.

For interviews with Louise Norris, please contact:
Steve Anderson (817) 991-9791 / sanderson@healthinsurance.org



A Photo accompanying this release is available at:
http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=28709

CONTACT: Steve Anderson 817-991-9791 sanderson@healthinsurance.org

Source:healthinsurance.org