Open enrollment ends on Saturday for health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It’s never too late to check out this year’s low-cost Obamacare options and either switch your current coverage or sign up for a plan for the first time.
If you purchased individual or family health insurance through health.gov or your state marketplace, you have until January 15 to end your coverage for 2022. Those who do nothing are automatically re-enrolled in their current plan.
But this is not so Experts say it is the year of open enrollment. The US bailout that became law last March included a broad expansion of premium subsidies that make coverage affordable for all consumers, including those whose high incomes in the past were ineligible for any help.
If you omit coverage as out of reach, it’s time to reconsider your options. “Even if you’ve checked in the past, you really owe it to yourself to look out for 2022,” Louise Norris, licensed broker and health policy analyst for healthinsurance.org says. “The coverage is very affordable.”
Many consumers have already gotten the message: On Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a 21% increase in plan choices through December 15 compared to last year’s open enrollment in 33 states using the health.gov platform. If you think you might need help choosing a plan, find market-approved help here.
When is Obamacare Open Enrollment for 2022?
The ACA’s open enrollment, also known as “Obamacare,” began on November 1, 2021 and runs through January 15 in most states. This is the last chance to enroll in the 2022 health insurance plan unless you qualify for a special enrollment period. The deadline is generally midnight in your local time zone, but try not to close it in case you run into any difficulties.
About 17 states and Washington, D.C. operate their own health insurance markets, some of which have different deadlines. For example, California and New York are two states with a January 31 deadline, while Idaho has already passed the deadline. See the full list here.
If you register by January 15, 2022, your coverage will begin on February 1.
Where is the health insurance market?
Most states use health.gov’s Federal Market, and you can purchase your document directly from this site. If your state operates its own market, you can still get there from health.gov: select your state and the site will provide a link to your state’s health insurance center.
All plans on health.gov and state-run exchanges are comprehensive plans that must cover essential health benefits such as maternity care, hospitalization, prescribed medications, and any policyholder’s pre-existing conditions.
You can also buy coverage through a knowledgeable broker It can help you compare your many options and decide what works best for you. Just make sure you are clear in the fine details. In addition to selling ACA plans, third-party websites may sell plans that are not comprehensive health insurance, such as short-term plans that are cheaper but often come with a set of exceptions to pre-existing conditions.
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How to get affordable health insurance
The US bailout temporarily eliminated the income limits for premium benefits, so people whose incomes were too high to qualify will be eligible for reduced premiums through 2022. In 2020, eligibility for premium assistance is set at about $50,000 per person and about 86,000 dollars for a family of three, and coverage above those thresholds was generally more expensive.
The US bailout increased the number of people eligible for a premium benefit by 20%, to 21.8 million from 18.1 million, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. People with incomes between 400% and 600% of the federal poverty level, and who were earning a lot to qualify for benefits, would save an average of $213 a month, according to the analysis, while those with incomes less than 150% of the federal poverty level. Poverty will save an average of $33 per month, the analysis found. These low-income consumers will be able to reach the standard “silver layer“ Plans for $0 a month.
The US Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that four out of five consumers will be able to find health coverage for $10 or less per month thanks to the US bailout.
While that’s great, it’s important to look beyond the cost of the monthly premium. Many of the cheaper plans come with the highest discounts – The amount of money you have to pay out of pocket for covered services before your health insurance starts. So if you have a health condition that requires regular management, or if you have had a serious accident, you could potentially be on the hook for thousands of dollars. (Many plans cover some preventative services at 100% before you reach the deductible, and low-income consumers qualify for special discounts on deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.)
Also, if you see regular doctors, make sure they take the plan you’re considering. A good way to do this, Norris says, is to call each doctor and give the billing office the full name of the plan. For example, don’t just say, “Are you eating Aetna?” But instead, give the specific name of the plan. Most insurance companies have online doctor’s directories, but these can be outdated directories.
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