Open enrollment for the health insurance marketplace begins today and runs until February 15, 2015. Whether you are enrolling for the first time or already have coverage through the marketplace, now is the time to take full advantage of open enrollment.
Some people may be eligible to enroll outside of open enrollment, during special enrollment periods, but most need to sign up during annual open enrollment periods like this one. If you think you may be eligible for a special enrollment period, you can learn more here. If you’re looking for your coverage to begin on January 1, 2015, make sure you sign up for coverage by December 15.
And remember: the marketplace is also the only place you can apply for and receive financial help to help lower the cost of your private health coverage. At HealthCare.gov, you can find out if you qualify for premium tax credits that reduce the amount you owe each month for your health plan. You can also find out if you qualify for cost-sharing reductions that lower your out-of-pocket costs.
Enrolling in Coverage for the First Time
Enrolling for the first time and not sure how to get started? Make visiting HealthCare.gov your first step. At HealthCare.gov, you can find out more about your state’s marketplace, health plans that are available to you, and whether you are eligible for financial assistance to lower the cost of your coverage.
Your state marketplace is like an online store: You can use it to compare plans available in your state and to choose the plan that meets your needs and fits your budget. You can compare plans based on price, benefit package, provider network and quality. No matter which plan you choose, you’re guaranteed a comprehensive set of benefits, including maternity care services. In fact, all marketplace plans cover key preventative services like birth control and family planning, cervical cancer screenings, and mammograms without any cost-sharing — no copays, coinsurance, or deductibles!
While all marketplace plans are guaranteed to offer minimum essential coverage, they aren’t all the same or one-size-fits-all. They can vary by price, benefit design, and network type. So it’s important to think carefully about what type of coverage you need, which doctors you want to be able to see, and your budget for health care expenses. Take a look at the National Partnership’s Choosing a Health Plan 101 guide for help with how to think through your options.
Finally, remember to sign up as soon as possible! If you want your coverage to start on January 1, 2015, you must sign up by December 15. Also keep in mind the general rule that if you want your coverage to start on the first of the month, you need to sign up by the 15th of the month before (for example, if you want your coverage to start on March 1, sign up by February 15.)
I’m Already Enrolled in a Marketplace Plan
Health coverage must be renewed each year. If you want to keep the coverage you had in 2014, you need to re-enroll in or renew your health plan for coverage in 2015 during open enrollment. If you want to choose a new plan, open enrollment is your opportunity to do so.
During open enrollment, go to your marketplace to update your information, compare available plans, and enroll or re-enroll in coverage before December 15, 2014, so your 2015 coverage will start on January 1st. This will help guarantee that you’re in the right plan and, if you’re eligible, receiving the right level of financial help. (In 2015, you might qualify for more or less financial assistance than you did in 2014. To know how much premium or cost-sharing assistance to expect in 2015, update your income and household information in your marketplace account.)
If you are currently enrolled in a marketplace plan and do nothing before December 15, you may be automatically re-enrolled in your current plan — which may or may not be the best option for you. Click here to find out more about automatic re-enrollment.
Finally, keep in mind that health plans — and their provider networks — tend to change a bit over time. Insurers make changes to benefits, costs, and provider networks. So double check your current plan to make sure you want to renew it for another year. You should also consider whether your health or financial needs have changed. If so, there might be a different marketplace plan that better suits your health care needs and your budget.
Keep an eye out for mail from your insurance company and from your state marketplace — these notices are meant to help you with the re-enrollment process.
Ready to Enroll?
Visit HealthCare.gov to learn more and get started!Back