It is health insurance open enrollment season in California! While many Americans obtain health insurance through their employers, not everyone is eligible for this coverage through their job. If you are one of these individuals you may have purchased or are planning to purchase individual coverage for you and your family. If you are planning to do so for 2019 then you need to act soon because California’s open enrollment dates are now through January 15, 2019.
What is Open Enrollment?
Open enrollment is the timeframe in which individuals can enroll in health insurance plans. Coverage will begin for the plan you select now on January 1, 2019 or when you sign-up if it is after the first of January.
Open enrollment periods began as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law under President Obama in 2010. The ACA, which is also commonly referred to as Obamacare, was designed as a way to provide affordable health insurance for all Americans.
What if it is Past the Obamacare Enrollment Period?
Individuals who missed the Obamacare open enrollment deadline may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if they experienced a specific life event such as getting married, having a baby, losing a job, moving to a new state, losing a spouse or aging off of a parent’s plan. If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period then you typically have up to 60 days after the life event to obtain coverage.
What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?
One of the reforms that came with the ACA was the establishment of a healthcare marketplace. Private insurance companies list their plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace and consumers are able to browse their options and enroll in an option that works for their needs.
The Marketplace for California is Covered California and it provides a location for Californians to shop for affordable health insurance coverage and to determine if they qualify for federal assistance.
What has Changed in Health Insurance Enrollment for 2019?
Some changes that have taken place for health insurance enrollment in 2019:
- The elimination of tax penalties for being uninsured. In the past, ACA made health insurance a requirement and individuals would be required to pay a tax penalty for not maintaining coverage. The penalty was known as the “individual shared responsibility payment” and it was 2.5 percent of a household’s income or $695 per adult (whichever amount was higher). In 2019 this penalty is being eliminated.
- The opening and extension of short-term health plans. Short-term health plans provide affordable, but limited benefits in comparison to major medical plans. Previously, short-term plans were limited to young people, but are now available to everyone. The duration of short-term plans also used to be limited to a few months, but they have been extended for a year with the ability to be renewed twice for a total of three years of coverage. While these plans can be affordable it is important to realize they are limited and won’t provide any coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- The expansion of Associated Health Plans. In 2018 the U.S. Department of Labor issued the Association Health Plan reform, which will enable small business employers to join with other small business owners to obtain some of the benefits that are accessible to large businesses. This will not only benefit small business owners, but it will provide greater options for small business employees.
Should I Sign-up During Open Enrollment 2019?
If you currently have an individual health insurance plan, the open enrollment period offers you the chance to renew, change or update your coverage. If you are healthy person without health insurance coverage you may think you don’t need it, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Preventative care is the key to long-term health. Wellness visits and check-ups will be covered through your health insurance. Health insurance will also protect you from high, unexpected medical costs. While you may be completely healthy, accidents can happen and can result in expensive medical bills. You should act soon to get coverage before the end of open enrollment.
Freeway Insurance can help you obtain low-cost health insurance in California. Request a free health insurance quote online or over the phone by calling (800) 777-5620. Don’t delay—open enrollment ends on January 15, 2019.