If you intend to renew or enroll in a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act for 2017, the election of Donald Trump as the next president shouldn’t change your plans. 

Though the president-elect has promised to try to repeal the law—or large portions of it—with aid from a Republican majority in the newly elected Congressyou can still go ahead and sign up for health insurance during the open enrollment period, which started on November 1 and ends January 31. If you need to be covered starting January 1, you'll have to enroll and pay your first premium by December 15.

Why can you still sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act? Because any wholesale changes to the health care law that affect your coverage could take a year or longer to implement, says Timothy Jost, professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University and an expert on the healthcare reform law. Do not assume that you are not required to get coverage; the individual mandate that all Americans must be covered by health insurance—and the penalty for not having coverage—still stands.

You can sign up for all Affordable Care Act health plans through the website, healthcare.gov, or through your state's health marketplace website.

You should also know that if you do enroll, there is no risk that your policy will be cancelled during 2017, says Tom Baker, a professor of law and health sciences at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. "These are health insurance contracts governed by state law," Baker says. "The contract is for a year and the insurance company is not going to be able to raise the price or do anything during the year."

If Congress ends the subsidies for coverage before the year is out—possibly making the premiums unaffordable—you can drop the coverage without penalty, Baker adds.

Changes Will Take Time

While the new president-elect has said that he will ask the new Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Jost says making immediate changes will not be easy. That’s partly because 41 votes are needed to filibuster a repeal proposal and there are 46 Democrats in the Senate who would likely oppose many changes.

Also, before changes to the provisions of the Affordable Care Act can be made, alternatives need to be worked out. For instance, the current law determines how Medicare providers are paid. If those rules are dismantled, new rules need to be put in place, says Jill Horwitz, a professor at UCLA School of Law and an expert in health law and policy.

Other provisions—including premium tax credits, the individual mandate and the mandate that large employers provide coverage or pay a surcharge—could be eliminated through a federal budget reconciliation bill. That decision could be made quickly, though there wouldn’t be any changes until after 2017. 

Congress may decide to keep some of the current provisions in Affordable Health Care plans, including parents' ability to keep their children insured under their policies up to age 26 and the ban on insurability exclusions for pre-existing conditions, Jost notes.  


There are steps you can take to limit the increase in your healthcare premium.


“As of now, nothing about the Affordable Care Act marketplace has changed, and consumers who enroll and pay their first premium by December 15 will have coverage starting January 1," notes the website, Enroll America, a nonprofit that encourages Americans to enroll in health plans under the Affordable Care Act. "We know that consumers have questions about the election and the implications for their coverage moving forward," the statement continued. "Right now, it is critically important to reassure consumers that nothing has changed.”