Here are four key things to remember this Open Enrollment season:
1. The Health Insurance Marketplaces are open.
The ACA marketplaces – both the federal HealthCare.gov
and state-based websites
– are still up and running! The marketplaces offer health insurance coverage for 2018, and the Open Enrollment period begins Nov. 1.
Bottom line: Marketplaces are still a great place to access affordable insurance for you and your family.
2. The period to buy insurance is much shorter this year.
This year, the enrollment window for HealthCare.gov
runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, 2017. During this six-week period, you can purchase insurance that will start on Jan. 1, 2018. If you live in state that runs its own health care marketplace
, your enrollment window may be different. In previous years, the enrollment window has been longer and sometimes extended, which is very unlikely to occur this year. Additionally, the federal government announced that the website will be closed for maintenance
every Sunday from midnight until noon (Eastern Time), except Dec. 12., so factor that into your schedule.
Bottom line: Start shopping early.
3. The government is still providing financial help to buy coverage.
The federal government is still offering the same financial assistance
to help you buy health insurance and cover out-of-pocket costs. This financial help (known as premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments) is still available to lower-income individuals who purchase insurance through the marketplace. You may have heard that premiums are much higher this year, and it is understandable to be nervous about what this means for you. However, the government’s financial assistance grows as health insurances costs rise.
Bottom line: Insurance will still be affordable for most who purchase it on the marketplace.
4. Shop around this year.
A few things have changed this year that could impact which plan is most affordable for you and your family. It is important to study your options and weigh financial assistance
available to you against the cost of premiums and out-of-pocket spending
throughout the year. You might be pleasantly surprised by which health insurance plans are available to you.
Bottom line: Do your homework.
Lastly, if you are currently enrolled in a marketplace plan, your coverage might automatically renew starting on Dec. 16, 2017. This date occurs after the Open Enrollment window closes, so if you are considering changing plans, you need to shop early.