It’s that time of year again, healthcare open enrollment 2016-2017!  This is the time frame when you can start, stop, or change your health insurance plan (depending on your plan type).  There are multiple avenues where you can receive your health insurance, each with differing time frames to adjust your health coverage.

Marketplace & Individual Plans

There is a three-month period when you can enroll for individual health plans starting November 1st, 2016 until January 31, 2017.  Remember, if you qualify for the special enrollment period, you can qualify and enroll after January 31, 2017.  To start this process there are a few ways you can go about it:

  • healthcare.gov / (Minnesota is www.mnsure.org)
  • By phone at 1-800-318-2596
  • Your local health insurance broker
  • Directly on an insurance company website

Typically, the cheapest monthly premium payments are found through the healthcare exchange.  Also, take some time to check healthcare.gov to see whether or not you qualify for any subsidies, because you may be able to save money for something you didn’t realize counted.

Going through the healthcare exchange for health coverage is not a reduction in quality.  The plan you sign up for will cover all minimum requirements that have been set by the Affordable Care Act.  Do note that there may be a limited selection of plans, but the healthcare exchange is the only way for individuals to receive subsidies for coverage.

Employer-sponsored Health Insurance

If you receive health insurance from your employer, it is not guaranteed that open enrollment will be the same as Marketplace’s.  Generally, open enrollment for companies takes place during the fall.

Health coverage through the company you work for has different positives and negatives compared to other sources.  There are fewer plans (1-3 typically) and the enrollment period is comparatively shorter.  On the other hand, employer-sponsored insurance helps cover premiums oftentimes, which means that it may be cheaper to go through your place of business.  Do not assume any of these though – thoroughly read through what your coverage details.

If you are not happy with the plan options provided to you, then decline your employer’s plan and go through either the healthcare exchange or a private insurer.

***Keep in mind that doing this prevents premium tax credits for a healthcare exchange plan if the employer’s plan met the minimum value as designated by the Affordable Care Act.

Medicare/Medicaid

Enrollment for Medicare began October 15th, 2016 and will end December 7th, 2016.   If you already have Medicare Plan A, enrollment for Plan B is January 1st, 2017 until March 31st, 2017.  The difference between plans is that Plan A is for hospital insurance and Plan B covers medical insurance.

Lastly, one distinct difference between Medicare and other healthcare plans is disenrollment, a timeframe when you can leave your plan.  This year it is January 1st, 2017 until February 14th, 2017 for Medicare Advantage.

You can enroll in Medicaid at anytime you are eligible.

The Other Option

If none of these plans fit what you have in mind, private insurers are always available as an option.  Be aware of plans that are “discount health plans” or short term health plans that may not fit the requirement of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.  Talk to an adviser about whether the plan you are purchasing meets the Affordable Care Act requirements.

There is free help here.

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