How to Survive the Open Enrollment Period Without Losing Your Mind

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open Enrollment Period is quickly approaching.

It’s your opportunity to change your current health insurance or to purchase a policy for the first time.

This guide will provide you with all the information you need in order to update your coverage or to choose a new policy that’s just what you need.

We’ll start with the basics of enrolling and then talk about reasons why you might need to make a change in your current coverage.

First things first – let’s talk dates and other essential open enrollment (OE) info!

Open Enrollment 2018 Dates

Keep in mind that the health insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Period is different than in the past. It has been reduced from 90 days to only 45 days for 2018.

Here are the important dates you need to know:

  • November 1, 2017: This is the first day of open enrollment. On this date, you can enroll in a health insurance plan, re-enroll or change to a different plan. Your coverage will begin January 1, 2018, as long as you enroll within the specified time period.
  • December 15, 2017: This is the deadline for changing or enrolling in a plan for 2018. If you miss this date, your only option for changing plans or enrolling is to qualify for a special enrollment period.
  • January 1, 2018: Your coverage will begin on this date when you enroll by the December 15, 2017, deadline.

What is the health insurance Marketplace?

The Marketplace is the term for the sector in which you can purchase health insurance  –  if you don’t have a policy through your job, or you aren’t on Medicare, Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

Even If you have insurance through your employer, you can still buy through the health insurance Marketplace, but you won’t get any discounts.

Medicare recipients aren’t eligible for Marketplace insurance policies as a primary source of insurance; however, you can purchase supplemental Marketplace insurance, such as a vision or dental plan.

Are there ways to save money on insurance?

Maybe and maybe not!

The tax credit is based on your income and the number of people in your household.

It’s definitely worth looking into because you may qualify – even if you think you don’t!

Eighty percent of people who apply for Marketplace health insurance are actually eligible for reduced premiums, so you should give it a shot.

What if you choose to go without health insurance?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that everyone is required to be enrolled in a health insurance plan or face a penalty.

The amount of your penalty would be calculated either per person or as a percentage of your household income  –  whichever is higher.

How do you apply for insurance coverage?

Selecting and enrolling in a health insurance plan that meets all your needs and fits into your budget can be confusing.

It’s best to get some guidance.

You should work with a knowledgeable professional to go over all of your options, examine the more than 50 plans available on the health insurance Marketplace, and then choose the one that best suits your individual needs.

It’s never wise to rush through an important process such as this. Though it may take some time, educating yourself on the available options, will eventually guide you to a plan that fits your unique situation, includes all the services you want, and also aligns with your budget.

What if you’re not a newbie to the Marketplace?

Maybe you’re not totally new to the way the Marketplace works, but you’re wondering if you should look into making a change in your coverage.

Open Enrollment isn’t just for people entering the Marketplace or getting insurance for the first time.

It’s also for anyone who wants to make a change in their plan or has different coverage needs than they did when they initially enrolled.

You may be hesitant to make a switch because you dread going through the whole process of reviewing plans, selecting one and then applying. It is worth it!

Let’s look at some of the reasons it may be in your best interest to reexamine your current policy.

The changing marketplace

Rates are expected to increase by 18% in 2018 with options becoming more limited.

In addition to a smaller pool of insurers, the design of current plans could change significantly or plans could be eliminated altogether.

For example, carriers may decide to reduce the network of doctors and hospitals they work with, as well as providing NO coverage for out-of-network providers.

Changing subsidies

There is no guarantee attached to subsidies. Receiving one for the 2017 calendar year doesn’t mean that you’ll get one in 2018.

Many people don’t know that your eligibility for a subsidy and the amount of the subsidy can change, even if your income doesn’t.

Keep in mind that If you failed to check “yes” to have your subsidy automatically renew when you enrolled for 2017, your subsidy will go away when January 1, 2018, arrives.

Checking “yes,” however, doesn’t guarantee that there won’t be any changes.

Your personal needs

A lot can happen in a year.

It’s quite possible that your or your family’s health, income or personal needs have changed since you last enrolled in a health insurance plan.

The bottom line is that your current plan may not be the perfect fit it once was.

Now is the right time for you to think about how all these factors may influence your healthcare situation for 2018.

It’s always a good idea to get the input of a professional before you make any decisions for you and your family.

Don’t let the health insurance Open Enrollment Period pass you by

Whether you’re entering the Marketplace for the first time or you’re already enrolled, the open enrollment period is an important timeframe for you to be aware of.

You could be putting yourself at risk for penalties, as well as missing out on savings you didn’t know were available.

Reviewing your current situation with an insurance expert will give you clarity in terms of what changes you could make that will benefit you financially and give you peace of mind.

Are you a Marketplace newbie or are you ready to review your current healthcare situation?


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