Even if you’re satisfied with your current health plan and insurance company, it’s always a good idea to evaluate your options annually as your health needs and plan premiums or benefits may have changed.
This year, the Open Enrollment Period, or OEP, begins on Nov. 1, 2018. At this time, you’re free to enroll in an individual or family health insurance plan. Whether you’re staying with your current health insurance carrier or switching to another, it’s time to start preparing to make a decision.
You can purchase a plan from a trusted health insurance company or through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. Be aware that not all insurers’ plans are available on the Marketplace, as individual insurers may offer more choices if you shop with them directly. You can also consult with a licensed insurance agent if you would like more assistance choosing a plan.
Dec. 15, 2018 concludes this year’s OEP. You will need to enroll or renew your health plan before this deadline to receive coverage in 2019. If you miss the deadline, you won’t be eligible for coverage unless you experience a qualifying life event (QLE). This can include life events like getting married, having a baby or moving to a new location. A QLE gives you the opportunity to enroll during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Otherwise, you’ll need to wait until the next OEP and pay a penalty when you file your federal tax return.
Renewing your plan?
If you’re satisfied with your current health insurance plan, you can automatically renew for the following year. Your health insurance provider will communicate information about your renewal in advance, and in most cases you’ll have the opportunity to keep your current plan. However, if your current health plan is no longer available, your provider will offer you a renewal in a similar plan. If you’re satisfied with your current plan, continue to pay your premium for the duration of 2018 and when you pay your new monthly premium in January, you’ll be automatically re-enrolled. If you’d like to make changes to your coverage, you have until Dec. 15, 2018 to do so.
Looking for new coverage?
Shopping for a new insurance plan can be confusing, but with research, helpful tools and consideration, choosing a new plan for 2019 doesn’t have to be difficult.
Consider you and your family’s current health situation, primary care doctors, prescriptions, subsidy eligibility and budget. Before making a final decision, closely review the plan and all of its added benefits to make sure you can make the most of your coverage. You may even want to consult with a licensed insurance agent for their third party advice before making a final decision to enroll. No matter what, don’t wait to start shopping.
Not sure where to begin?
Here’s a quick checklist to help:
- Consider you and your family’s health care needs.
- Research all available plan options.
- Eliminate plans that exclude your preferred doctor, prescriptions or any medical services you know your family will need in 2019.
- Determine whether you want more health coverage and higher premiums, or lower premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs.
- Enroll in a new plan or make changes to your current coverage before the deadline on Dec. 15, 2018.