What getting rid of individual mandate would mean for health insurance

NOW: What getting rid of individual mandate would mean for health insurance

Aurora Certified Counselor Jennifer Hart says this year more than ever, people are coming through the doors with questions about the future of healthcare.

"I do encourage them to still enroll because it's open and it's active," Hart said. "There are no changes as of now."

Senate and House Republicans appear ready to scrap the individual mandate in their tax overhaul plan, meaning you would no longer have to pay a penalty for not buying insurance.

Counselors say whatever you buy before the deadline, you get to keep in 2018, but the Republican goal of repealing the individual mandate could impact 2019 plans.

"If there's no penalty for people who don't have insurance there's a chance that people won't buy insurance. And there's a chance that, maybe in the future, premium costs would go up," Certified Insurance Navigator Caroline Gomez-Tom said.

Heart says rolling the dice on not paying the penalty this year is a big risk that could leave you bankrupt in an emergency.

"I see uninsured patients all the time, and if you look at a medical bill without insurance it's pretty pricey."

Some plans are no longer available - and if you don't pick a new one you - could be auto-enrolled in one your provider doesn't accept.

"In the beginning of the year, if you have to refill prescriptions or if you have any doctors appointments, you may not be able to see that same provider or go to the same pharmacies," Hart said.

Counselors are there to offer free advice if you want help picking a plan. They say your plan is safe next year - but after that - the system is a mystery.

"I think we'll all learn together along the way," Gomez-Tom said.

Counselors say despite the uncertainty, they've enrolled 20 percent more people than at this point last year.

For information on Open Enrollment events listed by county, click here

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