Open registration ends Saturday for health plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It’s not too late to check out Obamacare’s low cost options for this year and either change your existing coverage or sign up for a plan for the first time.
If you purchase individual or family health insurance through Healthcare.gov or your state market, you have until January 15 to finalize your coverage for 2022. Those who do nothing are automatically re-enrolled in their current plan.
But it’s not the year to sit on the open registration, experts say. The US bailout that became law last March included a broad expansion of premium subsidies that make coverage more affordable for all consumers, including those whose higher incomes in the past disqualified them from any help.
If you’ve written off coverage as out of range, it’s time to reconsider your options. “Even if you’ve checked in the past, you really owe it to yourself to research 2022,” says Louise Norris, licensed broker and health policy analyst for healthinsurance.org. “The coverage is so much more affordable. ”
Many consumers have already gotten the message: On Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a 21% increase in plan choices through Dec. 15 compared to last year’s open enrollment in all 33 states using the Healthcare.gov platform. If you think you need help choosing a plan, find market-certified support here.
When is Obamacare registration open for 2022?
Open registration for ACA, also known as “Obamacare,” began November 1, 2021 and ends January 15 in most states. This is the last opportunity to purchase a health insurance plan for 2022, unless you have a special enrollment period. The deadline is usually midnight in your local time zone, but try not to cut it so close in case you run into trouble.
About 17 states and Washington, DC, operate their own health insurance markets, and some of them have different timelines. For example, California and New York are two states with deadlines on January 31, while Idaho’s deadline has already passed. See the full list here.
If you enroll before January 15, 2022, your coverage will begin on February 1.
Where is the health insurance market?
Most states use the Federal Marketplace on Healthcare.gov, and you can purchase your policy directly from there. If your state operates its own market, you can always get there from Healthcare.gov: select your state and the site will provide a link to your state’s health insurance center.
All plans on Healthcare.gov and state-run scholarships are comprehensive plans that must cover essential health benefits such as maternity care, hospitalizations, prescription drugs, and any policyholder’s pre-existing conditions. assurance.
You can also buy coverage through a broker, and a knowledgeable broker can help you compare your many options and decide what’s best for you. Just make sure you’re clear about the fine print. In addition to selling ACA plans, external websites may sell plans that are not comprehensive health insurance, such as skinny short-term plans that are less expensive but often come with a host of exclusions for pre-existing conditions. .
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How to get affordable health insurance
The US bailout temporarily removed income caps for bonus subsidies, so people whose income was too high to qualify will be entitled to reduced bonuses until 2022. In 2020, eligibility for premium assistance was capped at about $ 50,000 for an individual and about $ 86,000 for a family of three, and coverage above these thresholds was generally much more expensive.
The American Rescue Plan increased the number of people eligible for a 20% bonus grant from 18.1 million to 21.8 million, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. People with incomes between 400% and 600% of the federal poverty line, who previously earned too much to qualify for grants, will save an average of $ 213 per month, according to the analysis, while those with lower incomes at 150% of the poverty line will save an average of $ 33 per month, according to the analysis. These low-income consumers will have access to referrals “silver level“ plans for $ 0 per month.
Four in five consumers will be able to find health coverage for $ 10 or less per month through the American Rescue Plan, the US Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.
While this is a good deal, it’s important to look past the cost of the monthly premium. Many of the cheapest plans come with the highest deductibles – the amount of money you have to pay out of pocket for covered services before your health insurance takes effect. So, if you have a health problem that requires regular care, or if you are the victim of a serious accident, you could hook for thousands of dollars. (Many plans cover certain preventative services 100% before you reach the deductible, and low-income consumers qualify for special discounts on deductibles and other reimbursable charges.)
Also, if you see regular doctors, make sure they are following the plan you are considering. A good way to do this is to call each doctor and give the billing office the full name of the plan, Norris says. For example, don’t just say “are you taking Aetna?” But give the specific name of the plan instead. Most insurance companies have online physician directories, but these may be out of date.
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