ICYMI: Now Is The Time To Shop For Health Care

by Cathryn Donaldson

November 15, 2017

Americans who buy their own health insurance only have until December 15 to pick a plan for 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Open enrollment to buy health insurance for 2018 has started and, this year, it is much shorter than before – running from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. Other than that, it is largely business as usual under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“There is a lot of confusion about what’s changed for open enrollment this year. Bottom line: not much,” said Jeanette Thornton, AHIP Senior Vice President of Commercial and Employer Group Policy. “The marketplaces are here, the financial aid is here, and insurance providers are here to offer a variety of plans to choose from for 2018.”

Whether they want to keep their plan or select a new plan, all enrollees should visit healthcare.gov to update their application, compare options, and enroll in coverage for the coming year. Don’t delay: waiting until close to the Dec. 15 deadline could result in long waits or delays.

For those signing up through the individual marketplace, below are a few reminders:

  • Plans sold through marketplaces still comply with the ACA. That means they still cover Essential Health Benefits, and people with pre-existing conditions are not charged a higher premium.
  • Everyone is required to have health care coverage or risk paying a penalty.
  • Premium tax credits are still available and there are still plans that cover more out-of-pocket costs. To qualify for this assistance, individuals should go to healthcare.gov to update their application and financial information.
  • According to a new report from Avalere Health, most counties across America will have $0 plan options on the individual marketplace for low-income families. Everyone should carefully review what coverage best fits their needs and what their plan does and doesn’t cover to avoid surprises down the road.
  • Enrollees may choose to stay with their existing plan – if it’s still available for 2018 – or choose a different plan.
  • Those that do not select a plan will be automatically enrolled into their current plan or a similar plan after the Dec. 15 deadline. Unlike years prior, no plan changes can be made after this date.
  • For those that are enrolled in Medicare, their current individual market coverage may end. Spouses or dependents of Medicare beneficiaries will need to sign up for their own plan for 2018.
  • Networks and drug coverage can change year to year. Patients need to check to make sure their doctor is in network and prescriptions are covered.

Important Dates to Remember

November

  • Health insurance providers will send their members a notice that explains changes to benefits, premium, and subsidy eligibility for 2018.
  • If a current enrollee’s coverage is ending because they are enrolled in Medicare, the Marketplace will do outreach to remind other family members to actively enroll for 2018.

December 15

  • The deadline to enroll in coverage through healthcare.gov.
  • Enrollees need to pay their first moth’s premium by the plan’s deadline before they can use their coverage. First premium payment deadlines will differ depending on the health insurance provider. Enrollees need to check with their new carrier to ensure coverage isn’t interrupted on Jan. 1.

Some States Have Different Deadlines

In states that have their own marketplace website and do not use healthcare.gov, the final deadline to enroll in 2018 coverage may be different. In California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, or Washington, individuals will need to check with their marketplace website.

To shop for plans and enroll on a 2018 plan, visit healthcare.gov. For more information or if you have additional questions, visit myhealthplan.guide or you can click here for an “open enrollment tips” infographic.