COLUMBIA, Mo. – Recent news may have some consumers confused about the status of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land, requiring most Americans to have health insurance, said Brenda Procter, co-director of University of Missouri Extension’s Health Insurance Education Initiative.

Missouri’s health insurance marketplace is still open to consumers who want to shop for a plan, and most consumers qualify for financial help to lower their costs. Health insurance plans are available in all counties in Missouri.

“However, this year’s open enrollment period is half as long as it had been during the previous four years,” Procter said. Missourians only have six weeks to sign up for a 2018 plan – from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2017. Coverage starts Jan. 1, 2018.

Through the Health Insurance Education Initiative, MU Extension offers free workshops for consumers and for professionals who offer insurance assistance to consumers. Workshops present the facts in a politically neutral environment to help participants understand and comply with current law, learn how to explore all available options, gain skills to make the best decision for themselves and their families, and identify nearby sources of enrollment assistance.

“News reports about ongoing health insurance debates have created confusion for consumers,” said Procter. “We want to be sure that Missourians get easy-to-understand information about how the law can affect them. We can offer education anywhere in Missouri.”

To request a free training for a specific group of professionals, contact Graham McCaulley at or 573-882-2005.