Five Big Mistakes Obamacare Shoppers Should Avoid Before the Jan 31 Deadline

Affordable Care Act

Five Big Mistakes Obamacare Shoppers Should Avoid Before the Jan 31 Deadline

Published on January 14, 2016


You’ve almost missed it – your chance to shop for a new 2016 health insurance plan.
The nationwide open enrollment period for Obamacare health plans is scheduled to end on January 31, 2016. If you miss the deadline, you could be stuck with your current plan – or left uninsured – until 2017!
If you’re ready to get busy and find a new health plan for yourself or your family, here are five big mistakes you should be careful to avoid:

  • Waiting till the very last minute. Don’t do it! The last day or two of open enrollment is a nightmare for health insurance shoppers. Do you really want to spend hours stuck in an online queue or waiting on hold to get answers by phone? Save yourself the misery by going online today to enroll in a new 2016 plan.
  • Underestimating your income. When applying for subsidies you’ll be asked to estimate your income for 2016. It may be tempting to underestimate if you think it will get you a bigger subsidy, but underestimating can come back to bite you at tax time. If you actually earn more than you estimated, you could have to pay back some or all of your subsidy dollars.
  • Monthly premium “tunnel vision.” Everyone looks at price tags when shopping, but there’s more to health insurance than the up-front price tag of your monthly premiums. You also need to make sure you can afford the copayments and deductible associated with any plan you choose. These are the “back-end” costs that come into play when you actually receive medical care.
  • Not having your paperwork handy. If you want to save time when applying for subsidies and enrolling in a new health plan, get your personal information ready beforehand. Make sure you have the birthdates and Social Security numbers for each member of your household, and earnings stubs to work from when estimating your annual household income for 2016.
  • Shopping only at government exchanges. Government-run insurance exchanges will show you some of the health insurance options in your area, but they typically don’t show you all of them. Private marketplaces like eHealth can often show you the same plans government exchanges offer while also offering other plans not available through government-run sites. If you want the broadest view of your choices, take the time to visit non-government insurance sites too.

To learn more about your coverage options before the January 31 deadline, visit

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