PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – For those wanting to enroll in health insurance, January 15 marks the deadline for open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace.

“In this society, health insurance is necessary due to the cost of health care,” Dr. Kathy Hempstead, Senior Policy Advisor at the Robert Wood Foundation, told KOIN 6 News.

Dr. Hempstead described how disparities in health care were brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic — highlighting the importance of insurance.

For example, Hempstead noted, “we saw that not everybody has equal access to health care and the ability to keep themselves healthy.”

While there’s no federal mandate requiring health insurance, there are barriers to entry including cost.

Oregonhealthcare.gov

However, Hempstead said she thinks post-pandemic, people are taking health insurance more seriously –noting that the government has also taken steps to make health insurance more affordable.

“The plans in the Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace are much more affordable than they were even a few years ago,” Dr. Hempstead said. She also pointed out that four out of five ACA enrollees pay $10 or less per month in premiums.

She added “it’s a really important opportunity for people that don’t get good coverage through a job and aren’t eligible for Medicaid or Medicare.”