2019 HealthCare.Gov Open Enrollment Begins
For some people, the day after Halloween might mean going to a dentist. But, for others, this November 1st reminded them about seeing a doctor. That’s because the date coincided with the beginning of open enrollment on HealthCare.gov. As a result, if you currently have an insurance marketplace plan or will lose employer coverage in the new year, now’s the time to start looking at your options.
If you’re not familiar, HealthCare.gov is the federally run exchange offerings plans that qualify under the Affordable Care Act — more commonly known as “Obamacare.” Some states actually manage their own exchanges — such as Covered California — but, for the rest, HealthCare.gov is the only place to purchase subsidized plans. What does that mean? Depending on your income, you may qualify for discounted premiums on health insurance plans. You can either elect to have these discounts come out of your premiums before you pay them or choose to have your subsidy credit applied when you file your taxes. Alternatively, you can split the difference and choose how much to apply now and how much to do later. This might be a good plan if you think you might make more than you’re currently estimating and don’t want to end up owing.
Since my wife left her full-time job last year, we were able to sign-up for an exchange plan outside of the normal enrollment period. Thus, this was our first time renewing on the platform. Thankfully, I found the process to be relatively painless. Basically, I just needed to confirm some of the information and ensure that nothing had changed since my application last year. In fact, I was able to complete the application and start viewing plans within five minutes. Sadly, it looks like I’ll be paying a bit more for a Silver plan in 2019 than I did this year, but the increase isn’t too substantial.
For those who don’t currently have health insurance or will be losing their employer-sponsored coverage before the first of the year, I’d recommend checking out HealthCare.gov before open enrollment ends on December 15th. I will say that, from my experience, it can be frustrating how much info you need to enter before the site will let you start shopping for plans. Luckily, if you head to HealthCare.gov/See-Plans instead, you can at least get a ballpark of what subsidy you might qualify for and how much sample plans will cost before you need to go through the actual approval process (just click the “X” if you get a pop-up and start by entering your zip code). So, in other words, what are you waiting for? — get on it!