Speak to an advisor1-888-855-6837
Open enrollment for 2016 health plans is underway—it started Nov. 1, 2015, and lasts until Jan. 31, 2016. The Affordable Care Act requires that most Americans enroll in what is known as minimum essential coverage and makes income-based subsidies available to help them pay for it.
While this may be the third Obamacare open enrollment period, it doesn’t necessarily mean we all have this process down. It is sometimes difficult to know where to begin and how to go about selecting a health plan. We’ve simplified the process by breaking it up into five steps and hope it helps navigating 2016 open enrollment a little easier.
Even so, open enrollment is a good time to take a look at your coverage and make sure it’s still the right fit. Carriers enter and leave the market. New health plans are introduced, and old ones go away. Rates go up and down. Your healthcare needs shift. You get the idea.
Whether you want to keep what you’ve got or look for something new, it is wise to:
For a more in-depth look at how to evaluate your current coverage, read: Are You Satisfied Your Health Insurance Plan?
As a result of the ACA, today’s health insurance marketplace tends to offer up a lot of possibilities for individuals and families that buy their own benefits. You can find health plans in the private market as well as the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges. You might be eligible for Medicaid based on your income and other criteria.
Investigating your options can be overwhelming when there are many, so it helps to set some parameters. Determining what you can afford to pay for health insurance and whether or not you qualify for subsidies or Medicaid can help. For help with this, you can:
If you qualify for an Obamacare subsidy—a premium tax credit and/or cost-sharing reduction—you must enroll through your state exchange website or the Health Insurance Marketplace to take advantage of it. Use this map to find out which website people in your state use to enroll.
If you do not qualify for an Obamacare subsidy, you can still shop your state-based or federally facilitated exchange, but you might also explore off-exchange options.
If you qualify for Medicaid, you will need to enroll with your state’s Medicaid program.
Once you’ve figured out where to shop for 2016 coverage, it’s time to start focusing on a few key options. Based on your healthcare needs, budget and subsidy amount, if any, you can begin to rule out plans in certain metal levels.
From there, you may want to look closer at specific plan elements such as:
If you need help understanding our selecting a plan, you can consult a producer, carrier representative or exchange-based helper.
To help make the application and enrollment process go as quickly and smoothly as possible, gather everything you will need ahead of time. This will include full applicant names, Social Security numbers, and household financial information, for starters. CMS offers a checklist of documents you will need, particularly if you select coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Again, if you need help with this process, you can work with a producer or exchange-based helper.
Your major medical insurance plan is considered minimum essential coverage. Unless you are exempt, you are required by law to have it.
There are other types of coverage that are not required by the ACA; however, they can help you save money on healthcare expenses your Obamacare plan doesn’t cover. For example, dental insurance can help reduce the cost of preventive care and other dental work. Medical gap insurance provides a lump sum benefit that can be used toward your deductible, coinsurance and copays, as well as household expenses and more.