What Open Enrollment Means for Me

posted 12/1/2015 in Insurance

What Open Enrollment Means for Me - Health Insurance

According to a recent survey by ConnectedHealth, a private insurance exchange company, more than half of Americans feel that selecting a health insurance plan is more complicated than solving a Rubik’s cube. It comes as little surprise then that most people are left scratching their head when November 1st rolls around, marking the beginning of open enrollment. But what exactly is open enrollment? And what do you need to know? If your eyes are starting to glaze over, you can be assured you are clearly not alone. Here we break down your health insurance basics so you can be prepared.

What is open enrollment?

Health insurance open enrollment is the time where you can you enroll in or change your health insurance coverage without qualifying for a special enrollment period. Open enrollment for 2016 began on November 1st. If you wish to begin your new coverage January 1st, 2016, you’ll need to complete your enrollment before December 15th.  ( More information on date and deadlines.)

What is a special enrollment period?

A special enrollment period allows you to enroll or change your health insurance coverage due to a life changing event. These include having a baby, adopting a child, marriage, or losing other health coverage. ( More information on special enrollment.)

Do I need health insurance?

The Affordable Care Act requires that you have health insurance. If you can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, you’ll be required to pay a fee. The fee will be charged for any month you don’t have coverage and will be due when you file your federal tax return. This fee can be as much as $695 per adult or 2.5% of your household income. ( More information on penalty fees.)

There a few exceptions, so if you elect not to have health insurance and want to avoid a fee make sure you qualify for an exemption here. Policies through your workplace, Medicare, and Medicaid typically meet these requirements and will prevent a penalty. ( More information on types of health insurance that count.)

What is the Marketplace I keep hearing about?

The Health Insurance Marketplace is available for those who do not have an affordable health insurance option. If you don’t qualify for Medicare or Medicaid and your workplace doesn’t provide insurance, the Marketplace can help you get a health insurance policy. Each state’s Marketplace and support varies. Iowa has a “state-partnership marketplace” which means that local insurance agents can assist you with the federally supported Marketplace.

If you need assistance with your health insurance options, Gary Winterhof is a certified local agent and can help answer any questions or concerns you have about getting coverage. Simply contact him via phone, email, or fill out a short form. Or visit our site now where you can find health insurance options online through Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield or the Marketplace.

Next, learn when you may be eligible to shop on the Health Insurance Marketplace.

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