It’s that time again! Now that the kids are back in school and the days are getting darker much earlier, Americans have the option to make one of the biggest decisions that will affect them during 2019 – their choice of health insurance coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, individuals have a certain amount of time to enroll in a health plan through what’s known as the Healthcare Marketplace, and while in past years people had up to three months to make their decision, it was reduced in 2017 to a mere 45 days.
What can you expect this year and how has open enrollment changed since 2017? Let’s review some of the more important things to keep in mind and understand how these new stipulations could affect you and your family.
More Benefits For Many Americas
The Affordable Care Act has been modified to make it easier for those in the United States to receive the help they need when it comes to healthcare expenses, and while most of the following changes to open enrollment are positive, there are still some important scenarios to keep in mind:
● Many premium increases are slowing down and prices are only going up anywhere between 3% and 5%, making those monthly bills more affordable. Each year, the federal government offers subsidies to individuals and families based on income limits, and for the coming year, this assistance should make health coverage even more affordable for many.
● Remember having to pay a penalty for opting out of health insurance? That was removed in 2017 and will remain the same moving forward into 2019. However, for those who think they can avoid health coverage and not have to pay anything out of pocket, unexpected medical bills could become an unwelcome surprise.
● A new feature during this open enrollment period will allow many states to offer short-term health plans that span up to one year. In the past, these policies only lasted a few months and were intended to cover the gaps between switching jobs. Now, these short-term options may end up being the best solution for many, but often don’t cover much in the way of common healthcare needs.
● Open enrollment times can vary based upon the state you live in, so make sure to consult trusted resources to find out your specific deadline.
New Medicare Options
It’s not just millennials who will be looking into all of their healthcare options during this year’s open enrollment as those who utilize Medicare will also have the opportunity to make changes. Not to be confused with open enrollment within the Healthcare Marketplace, Medicare offers its own time period to make changes each fall that usually runs between October 15th and December 7th.
Individuals who currently have Medicare will be able to utilize this time for any changes they desire, including selecting a new Advantage or Part D plan. Switching to Original Medicare is also an option, and all changes will take effect on January 1, 2019. It’s crucial that Americans contact Medicare directly to make any changes to their plans, and it should be noted that assistance with this process is available in many states.
Open Enrollment Affects Military Families
For the first time, those who are covered by Tricare will have the chance to make changes to their own plans during open enrollment this year. While this sounds like an amazing benefit, what it really means is that the option to make changes throughout the entire year is going away.
Not only are military individuals now limited to this small window, but anyone who wants to make an adjustment when it’s not open enrollment must have a qualifying life event that deems the change necessary. These can include the loss of a job or a move that would affect one’s Tricare eligibility. Pregnancy is not considered one of the qualifying events, so those who are planning on conceiving should make their insurance selections during open enrollment very carefully.
Planning For Your Healthcare
Open enrollment can be overwhelming for some as the sheer amount of plans available can cause your head to spin. During this time period, it pays off to take some time analyzing what 2019 may hold. Do you have children who will be playing sports and are at a higher risk of getting injured? How long has it been since you’ve visited the dentist?
There are numerous questions to consider, and for some, it may not make sense to pay a monthly premium for healthcare coverage or you may opt for a high deductible plan. In these instances, seeking out other resources like prescription and dental savings from SingleCare may be a great way to offset your medical costs. Above all else, make sure you spend time exploring all of your options and create a plan of action before open enrollment closes!