Health Insurance Open Enrollment season is fast approaching. While it doesn’t have the same luster of other holiday seasons celebrated in the fourth quarter of the year, it does impact many lives.
What is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment, which runs from November 1-December 15, is the annual period where you can enroll in qualified health plans through the federal marketplace or private insurers. The opportunity allows people to modify or change their policies without needing a life event such as new employment, marriage, or divorce. You can lock in coverage anywhere from one month to a year during Open Enrollment season.
During Open Enrollment folks can apply for Affordable Care Act plans, better known as Obamacare, by using healthcare.gov (on exchange) or getting a policy directly from a carrier (off exchange). Applying on exchange and using healthcare.gov is for getting a subsidy to purchase your insurance. Subsidies are like coupons for your insurance plan and are a tax credit that is taken up front and paid directly to the carrier. Individuals that qualify for a subsidy, or coupon, often also qualify for cost sharing which brings down not only the monthly cost of the insurance but also the deductibles, copays and out of pocket expenses.
Using an Agent
Selecting health insurance remains a stressful activity. Finding the right plan is essential and can be the difference in saving thousands of dollars or having your doctors or medications covered. Health insurance rates are expected to decrease this enrollment season. Using an insurance agent can help make the process easier, less stressful and ensure you pick a plan that meets your needs.
Moving to Group
The group market, unlike the individual market, is stable. Rates are not bouncing around, renewal processes are easy and often seamless, and the networks are not changing constantly. Group markets on average are 30% less expensive than individual markets. Group plans also have larger networks, lower deductibles, more carrier options and offer tax benefits for both employer and employee. Many folks change from the individual to group market during Open Enrollment season to save money and create stability in their insurance.
If you have a life changing event, like getting married, divorced, moving counties, or changing jobs, you are eligible to purchase or change your insurance outside of Open Enrollment. You have 62 days from a life changing event to purchase or change your insurance.
Ways to Apply
You can apply for health insurance several ways:
Don’t wait for the last minute to select your new plan because just like going to the grocery store on Thanksgiving Day, procrastination leads to problems. Oftentimes, the federal healthcare website crashes due to overuse during the last days of enrollment. Contact us for help finding the best option for you.