Health officials encourage North Carolinians without health insurance to enroll for federal coverage

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Open enrollment for health insurance policies on Healthcare.gov are wrapping up on Friday and health officials across the country and in North Carolina are urging individuals and families to sign up while they still can.

"People being able to pay for their care and have insurance is important for hospitals, but what is important is that a patient with coverage can get preventative care and not wait to go to a hospital," Cody Hand, Vice President at the North Carolina Healthcare Association, said. "COVID-19 can also be a pre-existing condition. There are a lot of issues at play that having health insurance is essential right now."

Enrollment for 2021 benefits is currently open on healthcare.gov, even as the landmark 2010 law faces challenges in the Supreme Court.

For 2021, North Carolinians will have access to even more insurer plans and cost savings, and that might be a healthy antidote to the estimated 257,000 people who have lost their coverage after losing their jobs this year.

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"Having the care to prevent illnesses keeps cost down, keeps teachers in classrooms, keeps kids in class, and keeps those of us with insurance at work. It's really important to sign up," Hand said.

An estimated 21 million Americans would lose health insurance nationwide if the Affordable Care Act is struck down, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute. Protections for 54 million people with pre-existing conditions could also suddenly go away.

At issue is whether the ACA's individual mandate, which requires Americans to have health insurance, is unconstitutional after the GOP Congress in 2017 zeroed out the financial penalty for going without.

The Supreme Court had previously upheld the mandate on the grounds that it was a tax. But after the penalty went away, two lower federal courts subsequently struck down the mandate as impermissible and called into question whether the rest of the law could stand as a result.

Despite the uncertain future, the current state of the ACA is full of good news for policy holders: a federal report shows cheaper plans this year than in years past.
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