St. John's Health

If you don’t have health insurance, you have just under a month left to sign up during the Affordable Care Act marketplace open enrollment period.

It opened Nov. 1 and lasts until Dec. 15. During that time, anyone can go to to sign up for insurance. Depending on income, some will qualify for tax credits that help cover the cost of free-market insurance.

The policies are for next year, so coverage would begin Jan. 1. Basically anyone who doesn’t receive health insurance through their provider or qualify for Medicaid can apply for health insurance during this time.

If you are already signed up on the marketplace and do nothing, your plan will be automatically renewed. While that may sound super easy, it can lock you into a plan that doesn’t fit your needs or is more expensive than it could be.

Plans change from year to year, and so do people’s situations. If your income has decreased, you may be eligible for higher tax credits, so signing up each year can ensure your plan is the best price for the level of coverage you need.

Sound confusing? Still aren’t clear on how to sign up or whether you should?

Don’t worry, St. John’s Health has a team of navigators trained to help people through the enrollment process.

“Health insurance is critically important any year,” said Julia Heemstra, director of the St. John’s Wellness Department. “In the middle of a global pandemic, it kind of takes on a whole new tone.”

St. John’s offers one-hour counseling sessions both in-person or over Zoom for people to work with its navigators. For those who speak Spanish, St. John’s has partnered with One22 Resource Center, which has bilingual certified counselors.

You can go to StJohns.Health/aca or call 739-4500 to sign up, but hurry, demand often outpaces need.

“Every year our appointments book fully, and that happens pretty early on,” Heemstra said. “And that certainly seems to be the trend that we’re seeing this year.”

For people who miss the boat, St. John’s may be able to find a navigator from outside Jackson, but Heemstra said that local folks may often be better prepared to help.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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