Have you enrolled in a health plan for 2016? If not, stop and think about the consequences of not signing up.
What will happen if you get sick or injured? Maybe you’re thinking, if a health problem arises, then I will sign up for health insurance.
However, that’s a common misconception. If you miss the open enrollment period to purchase health insurance, you will have to wait an entire year to purchase or change your health plan. The only time you can apply for coverage outside of the open enrollment period is if you experience a qualifying life event, which would allow you to enroll during a special enrollment period. These include moving to a new coverage area or having a baby.
And, if you don’t enroll in a health plan by the deadline, you will have to pay a tax penalty when you file your federal tax return.
Here’s what you need to know about 2016 health plans:
- There are four levels of plans offered on the marketplace: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The plan that is right for you will depend on how much health care you expect to use in 2016. The bronze plan will have a higher deductible and lower premium, which might be good if you don’t use many health services throughout the year. Platinum, on the other hand, will have a higher monthly premium and lower deductible to help cover more of your out of pocket health care expenses.
- All health plans must cover 10 essential benefits: outpatient care, emergency care, hospitalization, pregnancy and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse services, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services and devices, lab tests, preventative and wellness services and dental and vision care for children.
- You may qualify for a financial subsidy or tax credit based on your income and family size. If you make less than 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level – about $46,500 as an individual or $95,000 as a family of four – you’ll likely qualify for financial assistance.
It’s not too late to search for an affordable health plan for you and your family. Enroll by Jan. 31 for coverage that begins March 1, 2016.
Not sure how to get started? Here are a few options to begin shopping for your health insurance plan.
- Visit the Health Insurance Marketplace
- Call a licensed agent
- Work directly with a trusted health insurance company