Obamacare, otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2010. This law makes health insurance more accessible and affordable for millions of Americans.
Health insurance can be purchased through marketplaces, also referred to as exchanges in most states. Open enrollment for these plans takes place annually between November 1 and January 15th.
1. Go directly to your state’s marketplace website
Open enrollment is the time of year when consumers can enroll in a marketplace health plan and receive cost assistance. In most states, open enrollment begins on November 1 and runs through December 15, though some have extended periods.
The Affordable Care Act created the health insurance marketplace to make it simpler for people to access quality, affordable health coverage. Whether you need coverage for yourself, your family, or business needs, the marketplace can help you compare plans and find a budget-friendly option that meets all of your requirements.
At open enrollment, you can determine if you qualify for a subsidy to help cover your premium costs. Subsidies are determined based on your income and the cost of a benchmark plan.
Be mindful that while the Affordable Care Act offers subsidies, your premium may increase if you have a high income and purchase an expensive plan. On the other hand, if you’re lower income or face other financial obstacles, Medicaid could potentially replace an ACA plan in some cases.
The Affordable Care Act also permits individuals to purchase short-term health insurance plans outside of open enrollment. While these temporary policies don’t cover many preexisting conditions, they are an affordable alternative for those who cannot afford more comprehensive coverage.
2. Go directly to a provider
If your employer doesn’t offer a health plan for you, you can sign up directly with a provider. Doing so guarantees access to an extensive network of providers and the freedom to visit your doctor as often or infrequently as needed.
One of the best ways to find a plan with an extensive provider network is to use the provider search tools available on most plans’ websites. These will display all doctors, hospitals, clinics and other healthcare practitioners who accept that particular plan.
Generally, using a provider in the network will save you money since visiting an out-of-network doctor or hospital typically carries higher costs. This is especially true if you require frequent or ongoing care.
Another advantage to working directly with a provider is that you’ll be eligible for some cost-sharing reductions offered by ACA plans. These lower your out-of-pocket expenses such as your deductible, copayments and coinsurance.
If you don’t have access to health insurance through your employer, the health insurance marketplace can be a great option. A broker or agent may help sign you up for one of the marketplace plans and determine if cost assistance is available; this service helps find the most comprehensive coverage at an affordable price point.
3. Check with your employer
Employer-sponsored health insurance plans typically renew for the following year if no changes are made during the annual enrollment period. However, this isn’t always the case; if you want to alter your plan or add family members, make sure you consult with your employer first.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees that no medical history will ever prevent you from being accepted for coverage or charged more premiums because of it. This protection applies to both individual and family plans alike, so be sure to review your options annually during open enrollment season.
When reviewing your health insurance options, it’s essential to take into account both your current coverage and any newly identified medical needs that have emerged within the past year. Doing this will enable you to find a health insurance plan that best meets both your requirements and budget.
Another essential consideration is whether or not you qualify for government subsidies to help cover your insurance premiums. These subsidies are available to millions of Americans and can significantly lower monthly premiums.
For those eligible, a premium subsidy can reduce your monthly insurance costs by up to 60%. This federal assistance makes it possible for more affordable Obamacare plans.