Your step-by-step guide for picking the best health insurance on the Marketplace

Editor's note: There's still four weeks to shop for health insurance plans on the Maketplace! Use this guide to help organize your time and ensure that you're ready to purchase a plan by December 15. Remember, calendar reminders can be set for any date during the enrollment period.
 
The period to buy health insurance on the Marketplace, known as Open Enrollment, is Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, 2017. This is the time when you can enroll in a new plan, switch plans and get subsidies (financial assistance) for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2018.
 
Note: If you live in a state that has its own marketplace, you may have a longer enrollment period. This article offers week-by-week tips for enrolling in the federal Marketplace.
 
Here at NPF’s Patient Navigation Center, we work with people every day who are shopping and comparing health insurance plans on the Marketplace. This year, you may have as few as six weeks to shop for Marketplace health plans (compared with 12 weeks in previous years).  
 
With less time to shop around, it’s important to use each week during Open Enrollment to plan for 2018. Don’t worry – it’s not as tricky as it sounds to end up with the best plan for your needs. Here’s what you need to know this year: 
  • Plans may be more affordable than you think. Eight in 10 Marketplace shoppers can get a plan for $100 a month or less. Premium tax credits and discounts on out-of-pocket costs are still available for people with low-to-middle income.
  • New plans and prices are available each year. It’s more important than ever to shop around! You may find a plan that gives you better coverage for less money.
  • Enroll early: The deadline is Dec. 15. The enrollment period is shorter this year, and there will likely be a lot of website and call center traffic in the final days of Open Enrollment. Beat the rush and enroll early. 
  • Accidents can happen anytime. Give yourself peace of mind and get covered. Comprehensive health coverage is the smart choice. Prepare for the unexpected and get covered!
Feeling overwhelmed? Take it step by step. Here is the game plan that we share at the Patient Navigation Center to make the most of the Open Enrollment period. Tip: Stay organized and download our calendar reminders!     

Week 1: Verify your account and update your information

Before tackling anything else, make sure you’re able to access your Marketplace account! If you don’t have an account and plan to purchase health insurance on the Marketplace, create one at HealthCare.gov
 
After you log in, update your income and household information to see if you qualify for subsidies (financial assistance) in 2018. 
 
2017-11-04 12:00:00 2017-11-04 18:00:00 America/New_York Verify your account and update your information Today, make sure you’re able to access to your Marketplace account! If you don’t have an account and plan to purchase health insurance on the Marketplace, create an account at HealthCare.gov. Update your income and household information to see if you qualify for subsidies (financial assistance) in 2018. If you need help, contact an NPF Patient Navigator: psoriasis.org/navigationcenter HealthCare.gov National Psoriasis Foundation education@psoriasis.org

Week 2: Get organized

Make a list of the prescriptions and health care services (for example, appointments and lab work) that you will need next year. This will be very helpful in estimating your costs for the year and making sure that your plan covers all of your necessary prescriptions and providers. 
 
2017-11-11 12:00:00 2017-11-11 18:00:00 America/New_York Get organized Today, make a list of the prescriptions and health care services (for example: appointments and lab work) that you will need next year. If you have questions about where to begin, contact an NPF Patient Navigator: psoriasis.org/navigationcenter Your home National Psoriasis Foundation education@psoriasis.org

Weeks 3 and 4: Shop around

Compare plans on the Marketplace. Explore options and see what offers you the best value. Remember, in some cases, you may end up paying more throughout the year for a plan with a low premium (monthly cost for health insurance) and high deductible (the amount you pay on your own before your insurance company will pay for covered services) because your share of the costs for drugs and services will be higher.
 
Your options may be better and more affordable than last year’s. Don’t automatically re-enroll without comparing plans!
 
2017-11-18 12:00:00 2017-11-18 18:00:00 America/New_York Shop around Today, begin shopping for plans on HealthCare.gov. Compare the costs and coverage offered on each plan. Your options may be better and more affordable than last year’s. This is the most important step in planning your 2018 health coverage, so you may want to take two weeks to shop and compare. Remember, don’t automatically re-enroll without comparing your options! For help understanding different plans, contact an NPF Patient Navigator: psoriasis.org/navigationcenter HealthCare.gov National Psoriasis Foundation education@psoriasis.org

Week 5: Find additional resources

With the complicated terms and figures associated with health plans, it can be hard to make heads or tails of insurance information. Take advantage of free resources. Seeking out additional support can help you feel more confident in your final selection. 
 
Contact an NPF Patient Navigator for help comparing plans or to get connected to free, in-person assistance on HealthCare.gov.
 
2017-12-2 12:00:00 2017-12-2 18:00:00 America/New_York Find additional resources Understanding health insurance can be complicated and stressful. Get support! Contact an NPF Patient Navigator for help comparing plans or to get connected to free, in-person assistance: psoriasis.org/navigationcenter NPF National Psoriasis Foundation education@psoriasis.org

Week 6: Finalize your selection

Enroll in your plan and pay your premium for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2018. Once you’ve made your selection, you must pay your premium for your coverage to take effect. 
 
2017-12-9 12:00:00 2017-12-9 18:00:00 America/New_York Finalize your selection Enroll in your plan on HealthCare.gov and pay your premium for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2018. Once you’ve made your selection, you must pay your premium for your coverage to take effect. For last-minute assistance, contact an NPF Patient Navigator: psoriasis.org/navigationcenter HealthCare.gov National Psoriasis Foundation education@psoriasis.org
 
Have questions? You can always contact one of NPF’s Patient Navigators by sending an email or giving us a call (1-800-723-9166, option 1). For more information on Marketplace enrollment, request a free Health Insurance Quick Guide

Driving Discovery, Creating Community

This year, we’re celebrating 50 years of driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. See how far we’ve come with this timeline of NPF’s history. But there’s still plenty to do, and we can’t do it without you! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funding to promote research into better treatments and a cure by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or even create your own DIY event. Contact our Patient Navigation Center for free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today! Together, we will find a cure.

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