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State provides insurance option

One thing we’ve all learned in 2020 is that good health is everything.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that it’s more important than ever to have access to the insurance you need to live a healthy life.

That’s why we’re happy to introduce Pennie, Pennsylvania’s new health insurance marketplace.

Pennie offers a wide variety of coverage options offered by seven of the state’s largest private health insurance providers.

So if you’ve lost your job due to the pandemic, are not yet 65 and Medicare-eligible, if your income is too high to qualify for Medical Assistance, or if your employer isn’t offering coverage — that’s where Pennie can help.

Pennsylvania now joins 14 states that run their own health insurance marketplaces, rather than relying on the federal marketplace at healthcare.gov.

With Pennie, you pick the plan that best suits your needs, and your budget. You can get coverage no matter what your healthcare history is — that’s particularly good news for 50-64 year olds who are more likely to have pre-existing conditions and others with established health concerns.

For many Pennsylvania residents, the debut of Pennie couldn’t come at a better time.

A national study by the Kaiser Health Foundation estimated that 10 million individuals nationwide have lost their health insurance coverage so far during the pandemic.

Here in Pennsylvania, the state’s Independent Fiscal Office estimates that the commonwealth will suffer a net job loss of 453,000 in 2020 due to COVID-19.

As so many Pennsylvanians continue filing for unemployment due to COVID-19 related job loss, it’s important to note that coverage through Pennsylvania’s insurance marketplace may be a more affordable alternative to COBRA options available through your former employer.

That’s because almost 90% of the 300,000 Pennsylvanians who purchased insurance through healthcare.gov this year received financial assistance with premiums, and nearly half received additional assistance with cost sharing, such as copays and deductibles.

Another benefit of transitioning from participation in the federal insurance exchange to a fully run state marketplace is more flexibility with enrollment periods.

The open enrollment period for Pennie insurance plans will be one month longer than healthcare.gov, ending on Jan. 15, 2021. But if you need coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2021, you must pick a plan by Dec. 15.

You can review plan options, see if you qualify for assistance and sign up for coverage all at Pennie.com.

If you need help choosing the right plan, experts — called Navigators — are available throughout the commonwealth to provide non-biased information and advice by phone or online.

You can also find Navigators near you at Pennie.com. If you would like more direction from someone who can point you towards a plan that fits your needs, Pennie also has certified agents and brokers that are ready to assist.

COVID-19 has certainly magnified the need for health insurance. AARP and state officials also recognize that health coverage provides a measure of financial security for you and your family.

Choosing a plan from Pennsylvania’s new Pennie health insurance marketplace can help your family stay healthy during the pandemic and beyond.

Altman is Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner and chair of Pennie’s board of directors. Grossi is state president of AARP Pennsylvania.

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