If you’re looking to buy health insurance for the next year, then you have less than three months left to start planning. Under Obamacare, you can sign up for health insurance on the health insurance exchange in your state during an annual open enrollment period. For 2017, the enrollment period begins on November 1, 2016, and ends on January 31, 2017.
Employees are typically informed by their employers about the open enrollment period. But if you were buying on your own, you’d appreciate the following facts about health insurance open enrollment:
- Where to Buy. You have several options in buying health insurance policy. You can check your state’s health insurance marketplace by visiting www.healthcare.gov. You can also purchase directly from a health insurance company, or from a health insurance agent. You can even purchase from websites that offer health insurance quotes from various health insurance providers.
- Signing up for health insurance during the open enrollment period doesn’t mean that your coverage starts on the first day of 2017. If you want to get covered starting January 1, 2017, then you should sign up between November 1 and December 15 this year. If you sign up between December 16 and January 15, your coverage will only start on February 1. If you sign up between January 16 and the deadline, which is January 31, your coverage will begin only on March 1.
- Who should sign up? Generally speaking, those who need to sign up during the open enrollment period are those who don’t have health insurance through their employer or their spouse’s employer. If you don’t have government coverage, then you must also sign up during this period. The same goes for people aged 26 years and older, and thus are no longer covered by their parent’s health insurance.
- Making changes to your plan. Open enrollment period also provides you with the opportunity to renew your current health insurance plan or change to a new plan through the marketplace in your state or through private insurance.
- Automatically renewing may not be the best course of action. For most people who have a health insurance plan, it’s likely that they would just let it roll over to the next year. While this is an easy and convenient choice, this may mean that they would have to pay more for the monthly premiums. Unknown to many health insurance policyholders the cost of health insurance monthly premiums have increased in nearly every state. There are even states which have had double-digit increases. Thus the wise and practical policy holder would likely shop for a new plan during the open enrollment period, as this would allow him/her to get the best rates for next year’s coverage.
- Exemptions. There are people who may not be required to sign up during the open enrollment period. These are individuals who qualified for a hardship exemption, like people who have suffered bankruptcy, victims of domestic violence, or natural and human-caused disasters like flood or fire.