What You Need to Know about Obamacare / Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment
Here is some information and answers to common questions you may have regarding open enrollment and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
- Is the Affordable Care Act the same thing as Obamacare?
- What is the Obamacare open enrollment period?
- When does the Obamacare open enrollment period happen?
- What are the important dates I should be aware of?
- If I enroll in a new plan, when does my coverage start?
- When is the best time for me to purchase insurance?
- When is the last day to pay to avoid a gap in coverage?
- What if I have employer-based health insurance?
- If I already have a health insurance plan should I re-shop during open enrollment?
- Can I cancel my enrollment or am I stuck with it?
- What happens if I miss the Obamacare open enrollment?
- Which health insurance options don’t use open enrollment?
Is the Affordable Care Act the same thing as Obamacare?
Yes. The Affordable Care Act is also known as ACA and Obamacare.
What is the Obamacare open enrollment period?
Through the Affordable Care Act, there is a specific period each year called the open enrollment period during which you can enroll in individual and family major medical health insurance plans. The open enrollment period is your chance to sign up for a new health insurance plan or compare your options in the marketplace.
What if I have employer-based health insurance?
If you have employer-based health insurance, or health insurance provided through your work, you don’t need to worry about the open enrollment period. However, keep in mind that the company you work for may have an enrollment period of its own. Generally, open enrollment for employer-based coverage usually happens each fall, though dates vary.
If I already have a health insurance plan should I re-shop during open enrollment?
It is a good idea to review your coverage options each year during the open enrollment period. Some plans may raise their rates for the new year, some plans may cancelled, and new plans may be added. Because of this and additional factors in your life, the health insurance plan you had last year may not be the best fit for your personal needs and budget for the upcoming year. Your medical needs may have also changed in the past year which could make a new plan with different benefits more appropriate for your needs.
Can I cancel my enrollment or am I stuck with it?
You can cancel your Covered California enrollment at any time. However, it is best to ensure you have other health insurance lined up if you plan to cancel. If you don’t, you may not be able to get coverage until next year’s open enrollment.
What happens if I miss the Obamacare open enrollment?0
If you miss the open enrollment period, you are running the risk that you may not receive coverage throughout 2019. Outside of open enrollment, you may only be able to apply for individual and family health insurance coverage if you experience a qualifying life event through special enrollment, such as:
- Losing your job
- Moving to a new state
- Getting married or divorced
- Becoming a widow or widower
- Aging off your parent’s plan
- Having a new baby
Keep in mind that you won’t be eligible for special enrollment if you lost your previous health plan because you failed to pay your monthly premiums or if you voluntarily cancelled the coverage.
Which Health Insurance Options Don’t Use Open Enrollment?
Most health insurance companies in California use some sort of open enrollment program. However, there are a few exceptions:
- Medi-Cal: Medi-Cal doesn’t limit enrollment to the open enrollment period. If you’re eligible for Medi-Cal, you can enroll anytime.
- CHIP: The Children’s Health Insurance Program also allows you to enroll anytime.
- Short-Term Plans: Short-term health insurance such as traveler’s insurance doesn’t follow open enrollment. These plans are available anytime of the year.
- Health Care Sharing Plans: Health sharing plans like Aliera Health Care allow you to enroll at any time of the year. You cannot get subsidies with these plans; however, they often provider lower base pricing for people who do not qualify for a government discount.
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