On November 1, 2015 open enrollment begins nationwide and lasts until December 15th 2015. For a month and a half, you have the ability to sign up for the government managed, health exchange marketplace. You also have the same amount of time to sign up for private health insurance plans, unless you qualify for a special enrollment.
Health insurance coverage purchased during this period, will start on January 1, 2016. There will be only two other enrollment periods. For January 1, 2016 – January 15, 2016 enrollment, coverage will begin on February 1, 2016. The final period will be from January 15 – January 31, 2016 with coverage starting on March 1, 2016. After January 31st, you will no longer be able to purchase health insurance for 2016 and you will be penalized in a fee when you file your federal income tax return.
Difference Between 2015 and 2016 Enrollment
What Customer Service?
Healthcare.gov is now in its third year. Last year, there were still some kinks. Although 2016 enrollment appears it will go more smoothly, there will still be a long wait for online customer support and service.
Fees for Remaining Uninsured Are Higher
As promised, fees for remaining uninsured in 2016 are higher. We discussed these penalties last year and none have changed. If you were one of the 26% uninsured in Texas for 2015, you should have received a letter in the summer from the IRS, indicating a fee owed.
Currently Have a Government Plan? Reapply
Even if you didn’t experience a change in marital status or moved out of state, you still need to recheck health plans and coverage for 2016. It’s likely your income or household size has changed.
Your assistance could be higher, allowing you to pay less each month for health insurance. If you set the policy to auto-renew, you would have to wait until the next tax year to receive a credit or fee.
Consult with an Insurance Agent Now
There’s no denying that open enrollment begins and ends during one of the biggest holiday periods for Texans. Before Thanksgiving and December’s preparation for Christmas and New Years, figure out health insurance with a local agent.
Whether you recently lost coverage due to retirement, are getting married or lost coverage due to a job change, you need health insurance and require an expert to assist your decision.
Navigate Deductibles, Coverage & Premiums
Although the Affordable Care Act did standardize health insurance, there are still many exclusions for coverage and networks. In addition, high deductible plans can save money in premiums, but could prove costly based on how frequently you need medical care and the type of care needed.
Private Coverage vs. Government Marketplace
Stop by Hettler Insurance with questions. We help clients receive healthcare.gov policies and are also a licensed health insurance agency for individuals with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.
Remember, that you simply need health insurance. There aren’t tax penalties by using a provider outside of the exchange, most plans qualify for minimum essential coverage, but only the government exchange provides assistance based on net income.
Blue Cross often provides better coverage and lower premiums for individuals and families that don’t qualify for a subsidized plan. Blue Cross Blue Shield is also accepted by 90% of hospitals and doctors in Texas, with a larger network footprint. Finally, if you are self-employed and seeking to offset your net income with a Health Savings Account (HSA), private health insurance plans are typically your only option.
Talk with Ron Hettler to decide what health insurance plan is right for you and your family.