Someone trying to access in December 23, 2013 in Miami, Florida (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Are you one of the millions of people who signed up for health insurance through If your health insurance company is pulling out of Obamacare, you might want to head over to the site before the start of the new year. If you don’t switch your health insurance provider by January, the government will switch it for you. And you might not like their choice.

While Donald Trump’s comments about women are grabbing headlines this weekend (and rightly so), there’s an interesting article that’s getting very little attention on page 22 of today’s New York Times. People who signed up for Obamacare through the government’s website will be switched to a different health insurance company if their insurer has pulled out and consumers don’t make a choice for themselves by January.


When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, many people were concerned that it could be a disaster if it didn’t include a public option. And it looks increasingly like those people were right. Some of the country’s largest health insurers are rolling back the kinds of plans they offer, while others are pulling out of the state exchanges completely.

What does this mean for consumers? If you signed up for health insurance through and your insurer is pulling out of your state—as companies like Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealth are doing all around the country—you need to sign up for a different plan during the next open enrollment session, which is November 1st through January 20th.

If you don’t make the switch by January, will just sign you up for a plan of their choosing, and you’ll still get stuck with the bill. Warnings drafted by the Department of Health and Human Services that were obtained by the New York Times tell consumers that, “Without health coverage or an exemption, you may have to pay a penalty of $695 or more when you file your taxes.”

One problem that consumers face is that absent a public option they don’t really have many choices. As the New York Times notes, there used to be eight health insurance options for Obamacare consumers who live in Phoenix this year. But that number is expect to drop to just one insurer by the end of 2016.


If you don’t make the switch yourself by January, apparently the government will attempt to choose a plan that was similar to one you already had. But if you want to make the choice for yourself, you have just a couple of months to do so.

With lefties focused on defeating Donald Trump’s particular brand of fascism in the next month, it’s unlikely that Obamacare reforms like providing a public option will make headlines. But with health care costs rising, and private insurance companies not playing ball, something’s sure to break in 2017. Let’s just hope the thing that breaks isn’t your back. Your new health care plan probably has a much higher deductible.


[New York Times]

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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