Open Enrollment for Affordable Care Has Begun

Now is the season of Open Enrollment Periods. In addition to the Medicare Open Enrollment period that began October 15 (and runs through December 7), there is another one that may deserve your attention.

Open enrollment for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace Exchange has begun. It opened on November 1 and continues through December 15. For states that have created their own exchange, open enrollment is open now, as well.

If you are under age 65 and not enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, now is the time to choose a private health insurance plan or switch from your existing health insurance plan to a different private plan.

The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, created the Federal and State exchanges. Prior to 2019, failure to enroll in a qualifying plan without being eligible for an exemption resulted in a financial penalty. Recent changes to the law no longer require that you have insurance, although some states, such as New Jersey, still mandate that you do.

Navigating to the right plan can be tricky, especially if your state has its own exchange. Fortunately, there are resources to help guide you. The Federal website is www.healthcare.gov. There, you can enroll in or renew a plan, get help finding a plan via an intuitive online tool, or be connected to a local resource who can help you find the right plan.

Both New York and New Jersey have their own exchanges. The New York exchange is called NY State of Health and can be found at www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov. The New Jersey exchange is called Get Covered New Jersey and can be found at www.nj.gov/governor/getcoverednj.

Although the penalty for failure to enroll in these plans has been eliminated, there are still subsidies available if you qualify and can’t afford the premiums.

It’s important not to assume that nothing has changed in your plan and renew it blindly. Carriers come and go year after year, and benefits and costs change. Take advantage of the online tools, as well as any local help you can receive.

Forty-five days is not a large window to have to secure benefits. Last year 11.4 million people selected or re-enrolled in a plan during the Open Enrollment Period. That is an average of 253,000 people a day. Don’t wait until right before the deadline to enroll, or you might delay the start of your coverage in 2020.

Don’t wait another day. Check it out now.

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