Things you should know about Open Enrollment
The Marketplace Open Enrollment for 2019 was November 1 to December 15, 2018.
If you missed the deadline to enroll for 2019, there may still be options, such as a short-term medical plan to help you get through the year until the next open enrollment for 2020.
Know what’s available. Many people were caught off guard last year when the plan they had ended and the number of companies offering coverage in their area was limited. Consumers are well advised to price out multiple plans within the tier they’re considering. Last year’s most affordable plan with the coverage you want may not be this year’s most affordable plan. So, don’t to allow yourself to be auto-enrolled in a plan until you’ve shopped around.
Subsidies can save you money on your premium and out-of-pocket expenses. ObamaCare subsidies are only available through the marketplace. There are three types of cost assistance: Premium Tax Credits to lower your premiums, Cost Sharing Reduction subsidies (if you make less than 250% of the federal poverty level, buy a silver plan!) for lower out-of-pocket costs, and Medicaid and Childrens’ Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Cost assistance subsidies are only available through your state’s health insurance marketplace and are only available during open enrollment (unless you qualify for a special enrollment period). The exceptions are Medicaid and CHIP, which can be obtained at any time of year, and Medicare, which has it’s own enrollment period.
If you don’t qualify for subsidies, you may want to see your options outside of the marketplace too; in some states, some plans aren’t offered on the marketplace. We strongly suggest finding a trusted broker or agent to help you with the process of shopping outside the marketplace. There is no need to make a choice until you are ready. However, regardless of how you shop, you’ll need to obtain coverage during open enrollment in the individual market.
Can’t I buy health insurance anytime?
Unfortunately, no. If you miss the enrollment deadline for 2019, you will have to wait until the 2020 open enrollment to sign up for health insurance. The exception to this rule is if you have had a qualifying event. Some examples of qualifying events include:
- Change in marital status
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Death of a covered dependent
- Loss of eligibility status by a covered dependent
- Change in employment status that affects eligibility for coverage
- Losing or gaining healthcare coverage eligibility under Medicare or Medicaid
- Change in residence to a location outside of a healthcare plan’s service area
If you have an event, you will have 31 days to obtain health insurance.