Open Enrollment for health insurance through the 2018 affordable care act (ACA) started November 1 and only runs through December 15, half the time that was offered last year. Although roughly 82% of Americans already get health insurance through their employer, Medicare, or Medicaid, for those without, they have six weeks to find a provider. Although the Trump [VIDEO] administration tried numerous times to repeal and replace the ACA, what people usually call Obamacare [VIDEO] is still in effect.

How to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act

HealthCare.gov (and CuidadoDeSalud.gov for Spanish speakers) are the federally run websites most individuals use to find a health insurance policy that works for them.

While 38 states use this website, the District of Columbia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington each have their own websites. This is the recommended way to find out if you are eligible for tax credits, which can bring your premium down by hundreds or thousands of dollars, and where you can also find out about out-of-pocket expenses, which prescription drugs different policies cover, and what doctor and hospital networks you could be eligible for.

If you're not familiar with how health insurance works, the websites also have glossaries to help you educate yourself.

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If you need to speak with a trained professional, you can call the help center at 1-800-318-2596. However, in addition to cutting the twelve-week enrollment period down to six weeks, slashing the advertising budget from $100 million to $10 million, the Trump administration also halved the grants for ACA navigators, meaning that there are fewer trained professionals than in previous years. HealthCare.gov will also be shut down for maintenance every Sunday from noon to midnight throughout the sign-up period.

What are this year's other new features?

One of the new features this year is that there are a number of websites working as “direct enrollment partners.” Health Sherpa offers the plans that are available on government websites, while eHealth, GetInsured, GoHealth, and Stride Health also offer “off-exchange” plans. Each ACA marketplace will offer at least one insurer and at least a Silver and Gold plan, some of them also offering Bronze and Platinum.

The Affordable Care Act does still include the individual mandate, meaning that it is required by law to have health insurance. The penalties in 2017 were $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, or 2.5% of annual household income over the federal filing threshold, whichever is greater. This resulted in the IRS collecting $2.8 billion in penalties from 4 million Americans.