You may have questions – what is open enrollment? and what comes to your mind when you think about the fall season? Does that mean falling leaves, cozy nights, and a dull atmosphere for you? Well, not for American citizens. In fact, it’s the most awaited period in America as it’s the time for the annual open enrollment. If you don’t know, it’s the enrollment period for next year’s health insurance plan. Let’s dip deep more to find out about open enrollment.
So, What Is Open Enrollment Really?
Open enrolment is a window opportunity, open from November 1st to December 15th, where you can change and review your existing health plans. Not only that, but it’s also open for first-comers, so if you haven’t enrolled in a plan, this is your chance. However, this takes place only once a year.
Hence, you need to act fast and be vigilant about the dates. But have you ever wondered why the dates are set towards the end of the year? The answer is simple: to ensure you have coverage for the next year. For example, let’s say you enroll in a new health plan on November 2nd, 2021; your coverage will start from January 1st, 2022, and remain in effect until December 31st, 2022.
Until you have any special qualifications, you cannot change your plan for the entire year. Hence, it’s important to ensure you get the right coverage option before the next year’s commencement.
Dates for Open Enrollment
November 1st to December 15th are the enrolment dates only for the Marketplace coverage plans. But it’s not only the marketplace coverages offered to the public. Instead, there can be various other segments, including employer-based coverage, Medicare, and Medicaid, all having different dates.
However, it won’t be easy to remember all the dates accurately. Don’t worry. Here we have put the enrolment dates out in order:
Healthcare Marketplace: November 1st to December 15th
Employer-based coverage: Occurs in the fall
Medicare: October 15th to December 7th
Medicaid: Runs the entire year
Now you have a clear picture of various enrolment dates. Let’s talk about the necessary preparations you need to do before enrolment.
Preparing for The Open Enrollment
Now you’re aware of the dates, but are you aware of how health care plans work or what to do during open enrollment? Don’t worry. Here are some things you should know about.
The cost comes down to the type of plan you go for. Whether you purchase a plan for yourself, your spouse, or your entire family, the cost can go up as you add more people. But that’s not it…
The cost also depends upon the plan’s network and the monthly costs. Here are some terms you should know about:
Premium: The monthly payment for the health plan
Deductible: The amount you pay out-of-pocket before your company starts coverage
Copay: The share of the payment you pay for specific medical services
Coinsurance: It’s the % of the cost you pay after meeting the deductible
HSA: It’s a tax-advantaged saving account for medical-related expenses
Review the Coverage
Once your coverage starts, you should review all the coverage options. Since the plan you purchase will remain in effect for the entire year, it’s essential to check whether the plan covers services you particularly require.
If you don’t sign-up for health insurance during open enrolment, likely, you won’t get a chance to enroll in a plan before the next period. But don’t worry; exceptions always exist. There’s a special enrolment period (SEP) where you can enroll within 30-60 days only if you experience a qualifying event.
A qualifying event may include:
Changes in the household arise due to marriage, birth, death, divorce, or adoption.
Moving to a new place.
Losing previous health insurance due to job loss, turning 26 years old, or loss of eligibility for government-backed plans.
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