Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Millions of Americans will begin signing up for healthcare coverage for the coming year Friday as the Affordable Care Act's 2020 open enrollment period begins.
The enrollment period runs through Dec. 15, for the 38 states that use the federal government's enrollment platform HealthCare.Gov for coverage to begin on Jan. 1. The other states manage their own enrollment platforms and seven states have deadlines that run through January.
The six-week period is the only time most Americans will be able to sign up for healthcare coverage under the federal system, commonly known as Obamacare.
Some may qualify for a special enrollment period, due to life events such as losing coverage, getting married or having a baby -- and those who qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program can apply at any time.
Some may also be eligible for less expensive coverage this year. Premiums for the second-lowest cost silver plan for a 27-year-old will drop by 4 percent for the 2020 coverage year in 38 states, compared to a 1 percent decrease from 2018 to 2019, according to a report by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Additionally, 20 more issuers will participate in the 2020 healthcare marketplace, raising the total to 175.
Enrollment for 2019 coverage fell by about 300,000 plan selections to 11.4 million, the CMS reported, amid plans by the Trump administration and some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates seek to leave the plan behind. Hopeful Joe Biden has said, as president, he would keep many parts of the ACA and expand and enhance certain aspects -- while others like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proposed "Medicare for All" plans.
In order to qualify to enroll in a healthcare plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace on HealthCare.Gov, consumers must live in the United States and be a U.S. citizen or national who is not incarcerated.
A new study Thursday showed the ACA is having a positive impact on Americans with cancer -- saying the law has made a significant difference for those with head and neck cancers, a particularly hard to treat form of the disease.
"Our study suggests that the ACA was successful in increasing coverage among patients with head and neck cancer, a subgroup of patients with cancer whose disease treatment can be particularly complex and costly," wrote the authors.
"Studies after studies, including ours, have shown that individuals without insurance or those under-insured are more likely to present with advanced-stage disease, which is typically more complicated to treat, and which has worse prognosis."