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Sign Up Early For Health Care Coverage During Open Enrollment For 2018

by Kelley Turek

October 25, 2017

Open Enrollment for health insurance marketplaces will take place from November 1 through December 15. If you buy your own health insurance, now is the time to start thinking about the coverage you want for 2018.

Not much is changing in the shopping process for this year – so if you’ve enrolled in coverage through the marketplaces before, the process will be familiar. On November 1, you will be able to visit healthcare.gov to update your application, compare options, and enroll in coverage.

But the time to enroll in coverage is much shorter than in the past – so know your options, know what to expect, and enroll early in a 2018 plan. Do not wait to the last minute, if you wait you could risk long waits and delays.

Here are a few other things you should know:

  • Plans sold through marketplaces still comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). That means they still cover Essential Health Benefits, and people with pre-existing conditions are not charged a higher premium.
  • You are still required to have health care coverage otherwise you risk paying a penalty.
  • If you qualify, you can still get premium tax credits and plans that cover more of your out-of-pocket costs. To see if you qualify for this assistance, go to healthcare.gov to update your application and financial information.
  • If the plan you have now is still offered through the marketplace in 2018, you can choose to stay with that plan, or choose a different plan. If you do not actively choose a plan, you will be automatically enrolled in your current plan after the deadline on December 15. You won’t be able to make changes after this date.
  • If the plan you have now is not offered through the marketplace in 2018, you will be offered a similar plan from a different health insurance provider. If you do not actively choose a plan, you will be automatically enrolled in a similar plan after the deadline on December 15. You won’t be able to make changes after this date.
  • If you are enrolled in Medicare, your coverage in the Marketplace may end. If your marketplace coverage ends because you are enrolled in Medicare but your spouse or dependents are not, they need to return to the marketplace to sign up separately for a 2018 plan.
  • Networks and drug coverage can change year to year. Check to ensure your doctor is in your network and your prescriptions are covered.

Important Dates to Remember

October

  • The marketplace will send a notice with open enrollment reminders. The notice may list actions you need to take to continue receiving financial assistance for 2018. You will be informed if you are being matched to a plan similar to what you have now.
  • Your health insurance provider will send a notice letting you know if your current plan will not be available in 2018.

November

  • Your health insurance provider will send you a notice that explains changes to benefits, premium, and subsidy eligibility for 2018.
  • The marketplace will contact you if your coverage is ending because you are enrolled in Medicare.
  • Update your application on healthcare.gov to make sure you get the right amount of financial assistance.
  • Compare options to make sure you pick the plan that best meets your needs. Check to see if your doctor is in network and your medications are covered for any plan you are considering.

December 15

  • The deadline to enroll in coverage through healthcare.gov.
  • Know when your first premium payment is due. Make sure you make that payment so that your coverage isn’t interrupted on January 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. If you live in California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, or Washington, check with your marketplace website.