Be prepared for the upcoming Open Enrollment Period by understanding the basics.
When is the Obamacare open enrollment period? – The next open enrollment period for individual and family health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) begins November 15, 2014, and ends February 15, 2015.
What is an open enrollment period? – The Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period is when consumers (and small businesses) can purchase health insurance plans that include new health reform provisions and required benefits. Coverage under these plans will begin on January 1 of the following year. The ACA’s provisions let you purchase health insurance with 10 essential health benefits, obtain government subsidies, and enroll without fear of being denied for pre-existing medical conditions.
Who needs to apply for coverage during open enrollment? – The open enrollment period applies to individuals and families who are not subject to an exemption or who do not already have qualifying coverage, such as employer-sponsored health insurance. So, if you have employee health benefits, you do not necessarily need to enroll in a new plan during the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period, but rather through your employer’s open enrollment period for its group plan. If your share of your employer-sponsored health insurance monthly premium is too expensive, you may choose to opt out of that plan and purchase a qualified health plan with subsidy assistance, depending on your income level.
Will I be required to purchase a health insurance plan during this period? – If you wish to enroll in a health reform-compliant plan, you will need to enroll during this open enrollment period unless you have a “qualifying event.” If you don’t purchase a health reform-compliant plan, you may be subject to a tax penalty.
What happens if I don’t purchase during the open enrollment period? – Outside of open enrollment, your ability to apply for health insurance may vary from state to state. It may be limited to the occurrence of a qualifying event, such as the loss of a job, a marriage or divorce, a move, or the birth of a child.
What if I miss open enrollment and don’t have a qualifying event? – You may be able to purchase a non-compliant plan or a short-term health insurance plan, but these won’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act and those plan’s benefits will likely not be as comprehensive.
Where do I shop for health insurance during open enrollment? – During the open enrollment period, individuals and families can shop for health reform-compliant plans, including those with subsidies, at state health insurance marketplaces or private-sector online health insurance marketplaces designated by the state – if the state decides to appoint such a marketplace.