State Democrats launch open enrollment tour for Affordable Care Act coverage | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

State Democrats launch open enrollment tour for Affordable Care Act coverage

click to enlarge State Democrats launch open enrollment tour for Affordable Care Act coverage
Photo: PA Senate Democratic Caucus
Affordable Care Act enrollment event in Forest Hills, Pa.
Today marks the beginning of open enrollment for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and state Democrats and making sure residents are receiving the information they need to sign up.

From now through Sun., Dec. 15, the total length of the six-week enrollment period, Democrats will host 21 free ACA enrollment events throughout Pennsylvania, including in and around Pittsburgh. See below for local enrollment dates and information:

Wed., Nov. 13, 4–7 p.m.
Sewickley Valley YMCA’s Hunter Gym. 625 Blackburn Road, Sewickley. Hosted by Senator Pam Iovino.

Thu., Nov. 14, 4–7 p.m.
Whitehall Municipal Building Community Room. 100 Borough Park Drive, Whitehall. Hosted by Senator Pam Iovino.

Mon, Nov. 25, 5–7 p.m.
University of Pittsburgh Community Engagement Center. 622 N. Homewood Ave., Homewood. Hosted by Senator Jay Costa.

Mon., Dec. 2, 1–3 p.m.
New Kensington City Hall. 301 11th St., New Kensington. Hosted by Senator Jim Brewster.

Mon., Dec. 2, 6-8 p.m.
Human Services Center Corporation. 413 Penn Ave., First Floor, Classroom E. Turtle Creek. Hosted by Senator Jim Brewster.

Mon., Dec. 9, 6–8 p.m.
Pittsburgh Fire Fighters Union Hall. 120 Flowers Ave., Hazelwood. Hosted by Senator Jay Costa.

During the events, participating senators will be joined by insurance providers, including UPMC, Highmark, Geisinger, Capital Blue Cross, and Independence Blue Cross, as well as health-focused nonprofits such as the PA Health Access Network, the Consumer Health Coalition, the Coalition of Community Health Centers, and the YWCA.

A press release from the PA Senate Democratic Caucus says that the enrollment tour is in response to the Trump administration’s actions to undermine the ACA program created under former President Barack Obama. This includes slashing marketing and other resources meant to educate people about the ACA.

Trump has also expanded short-term health insurance plans that critics believe lack the same comprehensive coverage as ACA-compliant plans and eliminated the individual mandate penalty meant to encourage consumers to sign up for coverage.

Despite this, the ACA program covers a significant portion of the U.S. population. It is estimated that 8.5 million people in the U.S. enrolled in ACA health plans during the 2019 open enrollment. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania government website counted 369,954 state enrollees during that time.

"The 2020 open enrollment period will provide many consumers with more options for comprehensive health coverage under the ACA," says insurance commissioner Jessica Altman in a press release. "It is critical for those who rely on the exchange for coverage to research their options, shop around and know the difference between comprehensive and non-comprehensive plans.”

The enrollment events are believed to help Pennsylvanians understand what they qualify for under the ACA, including any subsidies or assistance that would lower co-pays, deductibles, and monthly premiums. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania website estimates that 80 percent of Pennsylvanians enrolled through the marketplace receive financial assistance.

"Every year I hear from people who did not believe they would qualify for financial assistance on the marketplace only to find out they do when they explore their options,” says Altman in a press release. Altman goes on to say that Pennsylvanians without health insurance would be surprised by the impact financial assistance programs can have on their premiums.

Consumers shopping for plans at can also determine if they qualify for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Those looking for more information or a complete of open enrollment tour events can visit the Healthcare for PA website