Obamacare’s 2017 open enrollment season is approaching. Here are answers to some common questions about enrolling in coverage and about Obamacare subsidies.
Obamacare’s open enrollment period for 2016 is now closed. The open enrollment period for 2017 health insurance plans is scheduled to begin on November 1, 2016 and ends January 31, 2017.
The Obamacare open enrollment period isn’t scheduled to begin until November 1, 2016, but getting a head start on your paperwork and reviewing your options can’t hurt!
You may be thinking, “I’m actually really satisfied with my health insurance plan, so why should I review it?”
Here are 3 reasons why:
- Your monthly premiums may increase or you plan may be cancelled
- Your eligibility for Obamacare subsidies may change
- Your preferred doctors may no longer be in your plan’s network
The Obamacare open enrollment period is the one time of year that EVERYONE should reconsider their health coverage, even if you are content with your current plan.
Taking 5 minutes to review your options during open enrollment can potentially save you hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars per year!
And if you take prescription drugs, or if you’re planning to have a baby or major surgery this year, you need to think carefully about your out-of-pocket medical costs as well as your monthly premiums.
In this article, we’ll answer the following questions for you about the 2017 open enrollment season:
- What is open enrollment and when does it happen?
- Why should you shop for coverage during open enrollment?
- What should you know about subsidies for 2017?
- Where can you shop for 2017 health insurance plans?
- Why should you shop for health insurance through eHealth.com?
What is open enrollment and when does it happen?
Simply stated, open enrollment is the one time each year when anyone can apply for a new health plan. If you buy your own health insurance, it’s critical that you pay attention to open enrollment because health insurance prices can change every year.
The Obamacare open enrollment period for 2017 plans is scheduled to begin on November 1, 2016 and is scheduled to end on January 31, 2017.
During open enrollment you cannot be turned down for major medical coverage for not having certain qualifying life events.
Outside of open enrollment, you can generally only enroll in a major medical plan when you experience a qualifying life event (such as a marriage, divorce, new baby, adoption, permanent move, loss of other coverage, etc.).
If you miss open enrollment you could potentially face tax penalties on your federal tax return for 2017.
Why should you shop during open enrollment?
You should shop for new coverage during open enrollment because it could save you money and help you avoid rate increases or negative changes to your benefits and coverage.
The fact is, even if you have health insurance, your current plan may not be the best choice for next year. Here are a few of the ways your health insurance plan may change in 2017:
- Cancelled plans – Some 2016 health insurance plans will be cancelled and unavailable in 2017.
- Changing subsidies – Your eligibility for subsidies may change in 2017, even if your income has not changed.
- Changing benefits and costs – Insurers can change benefits, access to doctors and hospitals, and your monthly premiums – many people will see their premiums go up by 10-20% or more in 2017!
- Changing needs – Your personal health needs may have changed since last year and changes in your family could require different benefits. If your income has changed that could affect the way you should think about deductibles and other forms of cost-sharing.
What should you know about subsidies for 2017?
The Affordable Care Act made government subsidies available to certain individuals and families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level per year. These subsidies may be applied to your monthly health insurance premiums, making coverage more affordable.
You should take special care during open enrollment if you received subsidies in 2016, or if you had changes in your income that may make you eligible for subsidies in 2017. Here’s why:
- Subsidies are not guaranteed: Just because you got subsidies in 2016 doesn’t mean you’ll continue to get them in 2017.
- Subsidies can go away if you check the wrong box: When you enrolled in subsidies the first time, you had the chance to indicate whether you’d like to have your subsidies renewed automatically each year. If you didn’t check “Yes,” your subsidies will GO AWAY on January 1, 2017 unless you actively re-apply during open enrollment.
- Auto-renewing subsidies won’t protect you from price hikes: Even if you opted to auto-renew your subsidies, that doesn’t mean your monthly health insurance premiums will remain the same. Your insurance company could raise your premiums. Or the “benchmark” plan in your area (the plan that determines the dollar value of your subsidies according to the law) could change, which could potentially reduce the value of your subsidies for 2017.
- Keep it simple: if you got subsidies in 2016, or if you may be eligible for subsidies in 2017, get out there to look at new plans and re-enroll in subsidies during the 2017 open enrollment period.
Where can you shop for 2017 health insurance plans?
There are various ways you can enroll in a 2017 health insurance during open enrollment.
Government exchanges: You’ve probably heard about the government-run health insurance exchange in your state. Through the government exchange website you can apply for government subsidies and enroll in a limited selection of subsidy-eligible health insurance plans.
Private marketplaces: Licensed private health insurance marketplaces like eHealth may be a better option for some. In many states, you can use private marketplaces like eHealth to find the same plans offered through your government exchange. But you’ll also get access to additional Obamacare plans that aren’t available through government websites. Plus, you can get personal help from licensed agents and access to terrific online tools that make it easier to compare plans and shop smart.
In addition to the options above, you may also be able to enroll through a brick-and-mortar health insurance agent in your town, or directly through an insurance company’s website.
Just remember: the BEST way to find the best plan for your personal needs and budget is to shop from a source that allows you to compare as many plans as possible from as many insurance companies as possible. You can’t really comparison shop if you can’t compare all your options!
Why should you shop for health insurance at eHealth.com?
When you shop for coverage at eHealth.com during the 2017 open enrollment period, you’ll get:
- Service: Our website makes shopping for coverage simple, and we have licensed agents available to provide you with personal help and advice when you need it, at no extra cost to you. At eHealth we’ve been selling health insurance online for more than 16 years and we’re rated A+ with the Better Business Bureau.
- Selection: eHealth offers a huge selection of quality health insurance plans from brand-name insurance companies nationwide. In most states, eHealth offers health plans available through government exchanges, PLUS other Obamacare health plans that are only available outside government exchanges.
Why shop anywhere else?