Open enrollment occurs at the end of each calendar year, and it’s the period when many Americans secure their health coverage for the next calendar year. Unless you have experienced a qualifying event, such as losing a job or a change in marital status, this may be the only time during the year that you can purchase an ACA-compliant medical insurance plan as an individual.
Follow these steps to help make the process easier this year.
Know the Dates to Buy Health Insurance During Open Enrollment 2021
While you can buy certain types of short-term medical coverage plans at almost any time, to purchase an ACA-compliant marketplace plan, you typically have to enroll during open enrollment or qualify for a special enrollment period.
While some states open enrollment earlier than others, for most states in 2021, open enrollment begins on 1st Nov 2021 and ends on 15th Dec 2021.
To purchase insurance during the open enrollment, you must do so within the applicable dates. Double-check the dates for your state around August or September of each year so you can begin planning to enroll in October, November, or December, as appropriate.
Life can get hectic during the holiday months, so you might even want to put a reminder on your calendar to avoid missing open enrollment this year.
Gather Information You Need to Apply
Once you know when you can apply for health insurance this year, gather the information you might need to complete your application. You’ll need some information about yourself, your household, and your income to help determine what coverage options you might be available for — and what tax credits might help you pay for coverage.
Here’s a list of data to gather before you sit down to apply:
- Full names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers of everyone in your household as well as everyone you want to insure — even if these lists are not exactly the same
- Home and mailing addresses for everyone you want to purchase coverage for
- Income information, including W2s, 1099s, alimony, and child support
- It’s useful to have your latest tax return handy, as a lot of this information can be found there
- Whether you’re currently covered under health plans
- Whether you or anyone else you’re applying for coverage for has access to coverage via an employer
- Some basic facts about your lifestyle and health, including whether you smoke
Complete Online Application Processes or Call TrueCoverage for Assistance
Once enrollment opens and you have all the information you need to apply for health care coverage, log on to the appropriate site, and complete your application. This is where applying for health insurance often gets daunting for many people.
Although the application process is purportedly designed to be easy and straightforward, it can be confusing. And some families go through the process second-guessing themselves and wonder — perhaps all year — if they ended up with the right insurance plan for them or if they could have qualified for less expensive options.
If that’s how you felt about your previous forays into the health insurance marketplace — or this is your first year contending with open enrollment, and you find it all overwhelming — you might want to consider working with an insurance agent instead. Agents, such as those at TrueCoverage, can provide guidance and help ensure you’re looking at the best options for you and your family.
Compare Plan Options
Whether you apply yourself or get help from an agent, you need to compare the available plans carefully. It might be tempting to shop solely based on premium costs to make things easier, but health insurance is more complicated than that. Here are some factors to consider as you choose a plan.
- What coverage does it provide? All ACA-compliant plans must provide some basic coverage, but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same. Look at the details of the benefits to understand what you’re actually purchasing.
- Which providers can you see? Are your favorite physicians and providers in-network for the plan, or are you going to have to change doctors to make healthcare more affordable next year?
- What are the deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket maximums? Deductibles can completely change your health care cost in the next year, so it’s important to run some likely scenarios and estimate how much you might pay out given different plans.
- What company is it through? This is an often overlooked consideration, but if you’ve had a poor experience with one insurance company in the past, you might not want to purchase a plan through them again.
Choose a Plan and Make Your First Payment on Time
Once you consider all the factors that are important to you, select a plan and finalize enrollment. You may need to respond to an email or confirm your selection in another way. Once you confirm enrollment, you should receive information on how to make your first payment.
You’ll also typically receive policy documents in the mail as well as an invitation to sign up on the insurance’s online portal. Create an online account to manage your policy, print insurance cards, and check on which providers are in-network as needed.
You must make your first payment on time (often before the first of the year) for your insurance policy to go into effect. While some insurance plans might provide a grace period on payments, you should never rely on this for the first month’s premium.
Contact TrueCoverage for Help Finding an Insurance Plan
TrueCoverage is your one-stop insurance shop. We’ve partnered with 600+ trusted insurance companies to provide 50,000+ affordable health insurance options.
We’re dedicated to helping you find the best health insurance, life insurance, and supplemental insurance such as vision, dental, accidental death, disability, and critical illness insurance. Our site and agents make it easy to compare multiple insurance quotes online from the comfort of your home.
The TrueCoverage team provides personal service backed by our advanced technology to help you quickly find the ideal insurance solutions for you and your family. We even take time to ensure you receive every premium tax credit and health insurance subsidy available to you. Contact TrueCoverage for assistance with buying health insurance during this year’s open enrollment period.