How to Prepare for Open Enrollment
The 2015 Open Enrollment period runs from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. This time frame is your opportunity to get coverage without being charged more for a pre-existing condition, apply for tax subsidies that lower the cost of health insurance, and get guaranteed benefits like prescription drug coverage, preventive services, and emergency care. It’s the time to make sure you and your loved ones have coverage to keep you safe and healthy. Here are the steps you should take to ensure you’re prepared to get the coverage you need.
Review Your Current Health Insurance Plan
If you don’t have health insurance, Open Enrollment is the time to explore your options and find the best coverage. However, even if you do have coverage, it’s still important to review your current plan and reevaluate your health care needs. Your needs and your family’s needs may have changed since last year, and there may be a better plan available to you on the Marketplace.
If you’re one of the 7.1 million people who purchased coverage through the Marketplace last year, or you purchased coverage through your state-based marketplace or the GoHealth Marketplace, you may have the option to passively re-enroll by taking no action. Be warned, though: doing so might mean missing out on significant savings, ending up with a different plan that you don’t choose yourself, and even losing access to your current doctor. It’s important to evaluate your needs and browse plans before making your final decision.
Update Your Information
Enrolling through a private exchange like GoHealth means that you’ll have access to tax subsidies to reduce your monthly premiums. Tax subsidy eligibility is based on your household income and household size, so it’s important that all of your personal and household information is updated to get the most accurate estimate. Even the smallest of changes can affect the subsidy you receive.
Tax subsidies are only offered on plans purchased from the Marketplace for anyone making between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. For an individual, this is the equivalent of about $45,000 per year, or for a family of four, about $94,000 per year. During Open Enrollment in 2014, roughly 85 percent of individuals who enrolled qualified for tax subsidies.
GoHealth can provide you with your tax subsidy estimate; then once your subsidy is estimated, it can be applied directly to your chosen plan when you enroll through the Marketplace.
Compare Health Insurance Plans, Both Old and New
For 2015 health insurance coverage, there will be 77 new insurers selling Marketplace plans, which is equivalent to a 25 percent overall increase since 2014 Open Enrollment. Insurers that sold on the Marketplace last year are also expanding their offerings. UnitedHealthcare – the country’s biggest insurer by number of lives covered – sold Marketplace health plans in just four states last year. In 2015, however, they plan to sell in 24 states. Similarly, it was announced that Illinois will have 410 plans available for 2015, more than double the 165 plans that were offered last year.
These new options and expansions will create opportunities for you to choose from a much greater selection of Marketplace health plans, so it’s important to compare all plans available to you rather than passively re-enrolling in your current coverage.
Find the Health Insurance Plan That’s Right for You
During Open Enrollment, your main focus should be to get health insurance. Period. Most Americans are required to have health insurance due to the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act. If you don’t have coverage, you may be subject to a tax penalty. In 2015, this penalty will be equal to two percent of income, or $325 for each adult and $162.50 per child, whichever is higher. In years to come, this penalty will only continue to increase. Even if you pay the penalty, you still won’t be covered.