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If you get your health insurance through the health insurance marketplace, it's important to know a few key dates about the upcoming open enrollment period.
Each year, there is a set time frame where you can enroll in an ACA-compliant health insurance plan through the marketplace. To continue having health care coverage next year, you'll need to know the open enrollment period 2021 deadlines, pick a plan and pay your premium on time.
If you don't act within the set period, you may not have health insurance the following year. Fortunately, it's relatively simple to get signed up. Here's what to know.
What Is Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment is a set date range where you may go to the health insurance marketplace (or through your state's marketplace website) and choose a plan for the following year. This year, the open enrollment period runs between Nov. 1, 2021 and Jan. 15, 2022.
If you miss this period, you may not be able to apply for health insurance through the marketplace until the next enrollment period. However, there are some situations where you may be allowed to enroll in a health insurance plan outside the traditional period. These may include losing your previous health insurance, moving, getting married or having a baby.
How Do You Enroll in a Health Insurance Plan?
You can start by visiting Healthcare.gov. If you haven't already, you can create an account and enter your personal information. Since some states have their own health care marketplace websites, you may be directed to sign up and complete the process there.
Currently, there are just over a dozen states with their own marketplace websites. If that's the case for yours, you can choose health insurance coverage, enroll and manage your plan through your state's website.
Healthcare.gov also lists other options to get started with enrollment, including having an insurance agent contact you, contacting an enrollment assister and learning how to fill out your application on paper.
Once on the site, you'll be asked to provide the following:
- Basic identifying information such as your name, birthday, tax filing status and Social Security Number.
- Information about your household, including your spouse and children, if you have them.
- Your home and mailing address because where you live determines the type of coverage available.
- Your employer (if you have one) and your income. If you aren't sure about your pay for the coming year, provide your best estimate.
- The health coverage status of others in your household, including if they are on Medicare, Medicaid or have employer-sponsored insurance.
Depending on where you live, you may have various plans to choose from on the site ranging in price and coverage. Review all the plans carefully and select the one that works best for you and your needs.
If you have questions, you can get help applying. The marketplace has a call center where you can speak to someone about your plan options or request technical support. The site also has a local help tool. Simply input your zip code and you'll see a list of people and organizations in your area who can help.
Once you've chosen coverage, you'll get confirmation and your new health insurance plan information — including your insurance card — in the mail.
Dates to Remember for Open Enrollment Period 2021
There are some important actions you'll need to take before the end of this year if you want coverage next year. For your health insurance coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2022, you must choose a plan and pay the first premium by Dec. 15, 2021. If you enroll and pay your first premium by Jan. 15, 2022, your coverage will start on Feb. 1, 2022.
Due to COVID-19, a handful of states have extended their open enrollment periods to Jan. 31, 2022, with coverage starting Feb. 15, 2022. Make sure you check with your state for the exact deadlines.
If you don't enroll in a health insurance plan by Jan. 15, you will not be able to obtain coverage after that date for 2022. The only exception to that rule is if you've experienced a significant life change that qualifies for a special enrollment period.
Can You Qualify for Subsidies?
Depending on your income and the size of your household, you may qualify for a subsidy on your coverage. These subsidies provide tax credits to people who make between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level.
If you qualify, you can take the credits and use them every month to reduce the cost of your health care plan's premium. The other option is to pay your premium in full each month. Then, when you file your tax return, you'll get the tax credit.
Learn if you may qualify for lower costs through tax credits by exploring the Healthcare.gov website.
Now that you know the time frame for open enrollment, you can start planning your next steps. You may also want to speak to a financial representative about your individual needs. They can discuss your options and help you weigh the pros and cons of each plan.
Choosing a health insurance plan is an essential task. Accordingly, it's wise to make sure you aren't rushed and have ample time to consider your options. Once you've made a decision, you can go with what fits for your needs and budget most appropriately.