If you’re one of the nearly 7 million people who signed up last year for coverage in the health insurance Marketplace, you may want to get back to www.healthcare.gov before December 15. Those who don’t cancel their plans, sign-up for new plans, or re-enroll themselves by December 15 will be re-enrolled automatically in the plans they now have.
Same old plan, new costs
You may be happy with the plan you have now, but just because the plan is the same doesn’t mean the costs or the benefits will be the same in 2015.
According to a report in ProPublica, “Customers of more than 900 plans will see their out-of-pocket maximum for medical bills increase, usually to $6,600 for individuals, the most allowed by law for next year.” About 250 plans will lower their out-of-pocket maximums; another 180 or so will be discontinued, the report noted.
That doesn’t mean you should drop coverage. The law still requires all Americans and legal residents to have health insurance, have a coverage exemption or pay a penalty. The penalty goes up in 2015 to 2 percent of taxable household income or $325 per person, whichever is greater.
Shop around for insurance
It is important that you shop around to get the best coverage for your money.
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to evaluate health insurance plans, because plan changes can come in a variety of places, not just the premiums. An insurer may increase the set fee for services, such as emergency room visits, for example. That change could cost you hundreds if you find yourself in an emergency room in 2015.
Figuring all these changes out can be tricky, so it may be wise to talk with a health insurance agent who can show you how the changes may affect your bottom line. Insurance agents are skilled at looking at plans and evaluating them based on what you need and what you can afford. Most do not charge a fee for their services because they are paid commissions by the insurance companies.
Enrollment is open now
Open enrollment in the Marketplace began on November 15 and will continue until February 15, 2015. That means you have until the February to shop for insurance and change your coverage, if you choose. However, if you don’t act by December 15, you will be automatically re-enrolled in your current plan – with any changes the insurer has made. That doesn’t mean you have to keep that plan; it just means you will be covered by that plan on January 1, 2015. If you change your plan after December 15, your coverage from your new plan will begin on February 1, 2015 or later, depending on when you sign up.
To find out more, you may contact our ACA hotline at 1-800-673-8600.