I don’t know about you, but I feel like we are still recovering from the first round of Obamacare enrollment that happened last year. That said, time has flown by, and here we are again, nearly at the start of ACA 2015 Open Enrollment. If you get your health insurance through an individual plan, either via the Healthcare.gov portal or directly through an insurance website, you should take some steps now to be ready for the November 15th start of Open Enrollment.
* Make sure you can access your account online. Regardless of how you obtained your coverage last year, there is some website somewhere that has your information. Now is the time to make sure you can log onto the website and verify your information.
* If you had a subsidy last year and/or intend to apply for a subsidy this year, collect your financial documents. In order to provide the estimated household income for 2015, the application will require your 2013 tax returns and any paystubs you may have from this past year. If your income is inconsistent, you will need some kind of documentation showing any income you earned in the past year, whether that’s 1099s or some other kind of paperwork. Having these handy at the start of the process will ensure there are few(er) surprises.
* Look for a letter in the mail from your current plan. If you were on an ACA plan in 2014, you should be receiving a letter from your current provider in the next week or so. This letter has important information about your plan’s continuation (or not), the rate for your current plan for 2015, and potentially some plan alternatives. In addition, if you have been on a Catastrophic Plan and you turned 30 in the past year, you will have no choice but to select a different plan for 2015, and the letter you receive will indicate that fact.
* If you have a January 1st start date, schedule a time to review 2015 plan options and enroll. Open Enrollment starts on November 15th, and you have until December 15th to choose a new plan that will start on January 1st. That’s a short month, and we are all busy getting ready for the holidays, so it’s best to schedule time now, whether on your own or with your broker. Prepare for site outages! we all know it’s possible.
* Get a new/better plan now that you’ve lived with your current plan for a while. If your current plan’s start date was sometime after January, you have until February 15th to switch to a new plan for the entire 2015 year. For example, if you enrolled in a plan which started on August 1st and you really think you would like something different for 2015, you have the option to change to a new plan for 2015, no questions asked.
Hopefully the entire enrollment process for Obamacare will go more smoothly this year, but don’t wait too long to make decisions. Whether you are working through the Open Enrollment process on your own or through a broker, be proactive to avoid website outages!