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What you need to know about open enrollment in RI

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The federal mandate requiring health insurance is gone, but Rhode Islanders who do not have coverage in 2020 could face state tax penalties.

Lindsay Lang, the interim director of HealthSource RI, said the new penalty for being uninsured in the state mirrors the penalties that existed under the Affordable Care Act before they were repealed by Congress.

“It’s about $695 per person or a small percentage of your income, whichever is greater,” Lang said.

The law contains several exceptions, including hardship and religious exemptions.

“Rhode Island implemented a mandate at the state level to ensure that all of the progress that was made under the Affordable Care Act is protected,” Lang added.

Fewer than 4% of Rhode Islanders are currently uninsured, well below the national average.

New tools

New this year, HealthSource RI is offering customer service through webchat, which is also enabled for desktop and mobile devices.

“Everyone likes to receive customer service in a different way, and I think having webchat enables somebody to do it at the time and in the way that’s most convenient to them,” Lang said. “You can do it if you’re sitting in line somewhere or on a bus headed to work. We’re just finding different ways to make customer service convenient for Rhode Islanders.”

HealthSource RI also added a prescription drug coverage comparison tool for customers to compare how much their medications will cost under various plans.

“Health insurance is really complicated and so in addition to having our cost calculator, this will help you understand what you’ll pay when you go to pick up your prescription drugs,” Lang said.

How to sign up for health insurance

Existing HealthSource RI customers will be automatically renewed in their current plans by continuing to pay premiums. Existing and new customers can also shop for coverage online or in person.

In the first week of open enrollment, 900 people called the agency or visited its walk-in center in East Providence. Open enrollment closes Dec. 31, 2019.

Susan Campbell ( is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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