What is open enrollment?
This is the time each year when you can make changes to your health insurance coverage-usually through the Healthcare Marketplace (healthcare.gov).
When can I enroll or make changes to my plan?
Open enrollment for ACA (“Obamacare”) insurance plans for the 202 coverage year runs from November 1st– January 15th for states that use the Healthcare.gov marketplace. Some states have extended open enrollment periods. For more information about your state’s open enrollment dates click here.
For your coverage to begin January 1, 2022, you must purchase your plan by December 15th.
Who can buy coverage through healthcare.gov?
- Any individual who is a citizen or lawfully present in the country who lives in the United States can buy health insurance through the Healthcare marketplace.
- Individuals and families with lower incomes may be eligible for premium subsidy and cost sharing assistance.
- There are several levels of plans available. These are referred to as the “medal levels.” Bronze plans are the least expensive on the front end (premiums) but have higher out of pocket expenses when you use your coverage. Platinum plans are the most expensive on the front end, but have lower out of pocket expenses when you use your coverage.
- Catastophic plans are also available. These plans are lower in cost, have limited benefits and are only available to certain individuals under the age of 30.
What do I need to consider when buying a plan?
- It’s important to weigh your healthcare needs with the coverage offered by each plan. Remember, that much of insurance is planning for the unexpected.
- Marketplace plans are required to cover pre-existing conditions.
- It is also important to think about what level of risk you are comfortable with. If you feel like you are pretty healthy, you may want to roll the dice and elect for a less expensive plan on the front end—knowing that if you do get sick, your costs will be much higher on the back end.
- Always do the math: add you premium cost + deductible + co-insurance/co-pays. Then subtract any premium and cost sharing subsidies. This will give you a general sense of you out of pocket responsibilities.
How do I buy a plan?
- The best place to start is www.healthcare.gov. This will also guarantee you will be receive any premium and cost sharing subsidies you may be eligible for.
- If you purchase a plan directly from an insurance company or from a broker you will not be eligible for premium and cost sharing subsidies.
If you are thinking about buying a plan or changing your coverage through the Healthcare Marketplace, it’s important to do your research, compare plans and do the math. Think about all the potential what-ifs and what-if-nots when weighing your options. You can also get help applying for insurance here.