It is nearly November, which means it is time to start preparing for Health Insurance Open Enrollment. Whether you are looking to get a new or first-time health insurance plan or if you are already covered but want to make sure your plan is still the best fit for you and your family, then now is the time to start looking.
What is Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment is the standard period every fall, wherein you can apply for coverage for the following year. For example, if you are interested in health insurance coverage for 2022, then you would need to apply for insurance in the fall 2021 open enrollment period in order for your coverage to begin on January 1, 2022. The Federal open enrollment period is from November 1 until December 15. Most state-run marketplaces also adhere to this schedule. However, some states do have special enrollment periods as well.
What About Qualifying Events?
If you need coverage right away, there are certain life events that qualify you to apply or adjust your insurance coverage outside of the open enrollment period. Some of those life events are as follows:
- Employment status change
- Having a baby or adopting a child
- Death in family
- Loss of health insurance coverage
- Becoming a citizen
It is important to remember that this list is not exhaustive. There may be other events that could qualify you for a special enrollment period. Also, you only have 60 days from the date of the qualifying life event to apply for coverage.
How to Apply?
If your health insurance coverage is through your employer, then your HR department will assist you in applying for the coverage you need. If you are applying for coverage through a health insurance marketplace, then you have a few options. You can either go to healthcare.gov for the federal health care marketplace and select Enroll or Login to begin.
Many states also have state-run health insurance marketplaces that you can use to find a plan. If you type the name of your state and “health insurance marketplace” into any search engine, you should be able to find your state’s insurance marketplace website. Applying for coverage is as simple as entering some basic information about yourself and any family members who will also need coverage, then reviewing and selecting the plan that best fits your needs and budget.
If you need help determining which plan is right for you, healthcare.gov also has a link to find a local agent or broker who can assist you in choosing your plan. You can either reach out to the local agent directly or have them contact you. In addition, on the marketplace website, you can also see if you qualify for any subsidies or tax credits to help you to afford your health insurance plan. There are more options available now than ever before to help you to afford health insurance. And the application process on healthcare.gov walks you through every step or offers you the assistance you need to choose the right plan at the right price for you.