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Affordable Care Act open enrollment begins Nov. 1: Here's what you need to know

Affordable Care Act open enrollment begins tomorrow; what you need to know(Sydney Glenn/WPDE)

Open enrollment for marketplace insurance begins Wednesday, Nov. 1. It's part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

This year the open enrollment period is the shortest it's ever been, 6 weeks.

There will also be days when the website will be down for maintenance, including this Wednesday and most Sundays.

Related: Health law sign-ups start, and some see a 'hostile takeover'

In South Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina is the only insure provider offering plans for people who have marketplace insurance.

Celeste Bondurant-Bell, the Director of Community Development for Little River Medical Center, said it's important that people are prepared.

"It’s critical that people do not wait until the last minute this year because there is such a short period for enrollment. In years past we’ve had three months to help people get enrolled, this year its right at 6 weeks," Bondurant-Bell said.

Bondurant-Bell said she thinks the interest is still the same this year, but say she believes less people know about the dates and deadlines.

"There are more people who have been insured here in South Carolina so there is a reduction in the uninsured, but also the advertising budget to let people know that open enrollment is about to take place has been slashed. So, to my knowledge, there is little to no television advertising, there is little to no print advertising so people are not aware that open enrollment starts tomorrow," she said.

Little River Medical Center is offering free assistance with open enrollment. While you can follow the steps online, officials at the center will help you ask questions and educate you about the right coverage plan for you.

“The key things to remember is to look carefully at the plans. Before you select one, read over the plans and look at things like the deductibles, the premiums, what medications are covered by that plan and what providers accept that plan. Also what hospitals, what local hospitals accept that plan," she said.

Wednesday, the Horry County Democratic Party is hosting the Affordable Care Act Enrollment Awareness Day.

The question and answer event will take place at the Horry County Democratic Party office, 909 Norman Alley in Conway, from 12-1 p.m.

Bondurant-Bell will be there on behalf of Little River Medical Center.

To schedule a free appointment with Little River Medical Center for assistance with open enrollment call one of these numbers:

  • Little River 843.663.8261
  • Myrtle Beach 843.663.8270
  • Carolina Forest 843.663.8063

According to a news release, Healthcare Partners of SC also provides assistance with ACA coverage. Call (843) 340-0979 for more infromation.

Open enrollment closes Dec. 15, 2017.

For more information visit healthcare.gov.

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