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Penobscot Bay Press
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News Feature

State of Maine
Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 2, 2017 and Island Ad-Vantages, November 2, 2017 and The Weekly Packet, November 2, 2017
Lobstermen’s Association to help with insurance enrollment

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) again this year will provide free enrollment assistance to Maine fishermen and others who wish to sign up or re-enroll in Affordable Care Act health insurance.

With a shorter enrollment period this year, from November 1 to December 15, MLA health care Navigator Bridget Thornton is ready to help enroll people by phone, in person or through a computer, a press release said.

While her focus is reaching out to families in the Maine lobster fishery, she can help anyone enroll in health insurance.

The extremely brief enrollment period (just 45 days) is not the only change for 2018.

Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is no longer offering health insurance plans on Maine’s health insurance Marketplace. That means people who are currently enrolled in Anthem will be moved automatically, a process called “cross-walked,” into either a Harvard Pilgrim or Community Health Options plan unless they choose a new plan.

“We encourage people with Anthem plans to call us so we can help find a new plan that works for them,” said Thornton. “The plan you could be cross-walked into may not suit your needs.”

Thornton wants people to be aware of the impact of Anthem’s withdrawal. Anthem members who were auto-paying their monthly premium should discontinue payments at the end of December; however, their first month’s payment for their new 2018 plan is due immediately. There is a payment grace period for people who have tax credits and/or extra savings.

“It’s important to know that if the insurance company does not receive your first month’s payment, your account will be cancelled and you will have to wait until next open enrollment to sign up,” Thornton advised.

Some elements of Affordable Health Care insurance plans are not changing. All health insurance plans on the Marketplace will still cover the ten mandatory provisions, such as maternity care; pre-existing medical conditions cannot be considered when determining coverage or premiums. The penalty for not having coverage in 2018 is also the same: $695 dollars per adult, $347.50 per child under 18, or 2.5 percent of your yearly income, whichever figure is greater.

For the duration of the enrollment period, Thornton’s work schedule will remain flexible. Because fishermen often work different hours, she’s ready to accommodate anyone’s calendar. She can be reached through the MLA website www.mainelobstermen.org, by phone 207-329-6055 or by email at bridget@mainelobstermen.org />