What is ObamaCare?
ObamaCare, which is also known as the Affordable Care Act, is the United States healthcare reform law that improves access to health insurance for Americans. Through open enrollment people are able to obtain health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace or outside of the marketplace. The open enrollment period typically lasts about three months. The purpose of ObamaCare is to combat the high costs of health insurance and to make it more affordable for all Americans.
What are the benefits of ObamaCare?
The biggest benefit of ObamaCare is that it helps all people to get some type of health insurance, which is huge considering that in 2013, 44 million Americans went without health insurance. One of the most important details of this is that you can’t be denied coverage or treatment from a pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act also keeps insurance companies from charging more for being a woman or somehow being dropped mid-treatment for something.Obamacare gives Americans new benefits, rights and protections and helps people who can’t afford insurance by expanding Medicaid eligibility and cost assistance and reforming Medicare.
What is open enrollment?
All Americans are required to have minimum essential coverage in order to avoid a fee for having no health insurance. There are some exemptions to the individual mandate for insurance, but the best way to avoid the fee is to enroll in insurance. If a person isn’t going to enroll in group insurance at their place of employment, unless they have a special enrollment date for certain reasons, they have to enroll in insurance through health insurance marketplace during a certain date, which is also known as open enrollment. These dates change each year and vary by insurance. During these dates you can switch plans, apply for cost assistance or enroll in a major medical plan for yourself or with your family. For coverage in 2017, open enrollment dates are from Oct.1, 2016 to Dec. 15, 2016. All health plans share the Health Insurance Marketplace’s open enrollment period. Even if you plan to keep the same plan it’s important to verify your plan every year during open enrollment to avoid any auto-renewal mistakes.
What are special enrollment periods and how do you qualify?
You’re able to apply for special enrollment up until open enrollment begins and you should contact your insurance marketplace if you’ve somehow lost coverage - no matter the time of year. Special enrollment periods are when you and your family can sign up for health insurance outside of open enrollment because of a certain qualifying life event. Most Arizona health insurance companies have some type of criteria for this, but it all varies specifically on the company. Usually you can qualify for 60 days following life events that involve a change in family status or loss of coverage. Luckily, there are some Affordable Care Act rules to help define special enrollment.
• You got married.
• You adopted or gave birth to a child
• You made a permanent move to an area that offers different insurance plans
• You lost your previous health coverage for some reason. These reasons include, but aren’t limited to: job loss, divorce, loss of Medicaid eligibility, COBRA coverage expiration and a decertified health plan.
• A change in income or household status could possibly qualify
It’s important to keep in mind that voluntarily quitting your health insurance coverage does not count as a loss of your previous health coverage. Do not voluntarily quit your Arizona health insurance in hopes of getting a special enrollment because it will not work!
During open enrollment you will need to go online to get the process of enrolling in Obamacare started. You’ll create an account through your state's marketplace, pick a plan and enroll. There does have to be verification on your account after it’s been created and that sometimes takes a little bit of time, but other than that the most important thing to do is to pick a good plan that you think will fit the needs of yourself and your family. Do your research on every plan and give yourself enough time to choose the right one and in case there are any problems with the enrollment. Leaving the process until the last minute is a recipe for disaster - especially if you aren’t finding exactly what you want in the marketplace. Your best bet is to consult an Arizona health insurance broker with your predicament to find the answer so you don’t miss the open enrollment period.
Other enrollment periods
Something to remember as you pick your insurance plan is that enrollment periods are different depending on the coverage you’re choosing to use. There are no official enrollment periods for private health insurance outside of the marketplace, although most Arizona health insurance companies have adopted the marketplace model. To solve this, you’re always able to get short term health insurance, however the fee for no insurance isn’t waived through this option. You can enroll in Medicaid and CHIP at anytime and coverage will even work retroactively for up to two months. It’s easier to enroll in these programs during open enrollment, however there are Medicaid options if you missed it, too. Open enrollment for job based insurance is completely
different based on the employer, so don’t assume your insurance through your workplace has enrollment during ObamaCare enrollment because you’ll miss enrollment.
No matter if you choose ObamaCare or a different Arizona health insurance, don’t be afraid to use an insurance broker if you have questions. Making the wrong insurance decision or missing an enrollment period can be a costly mistake. In the case of insurance, the more questions you ask, the better.