Open Enrollment for 2018 Coverage

Insurance can be confusing to navigate. The changing landscape of the insurance marketplace and rising premiums can be daunting, especially for first time enrollees. With the enrollment period beginning for 2018 coverage this November, it is important to be aware of some new changes in the process.

What Is the Enrollment Period?

2018 Open Enrollment dates: November 1 – December 15

The health care enrollment period refers to the period of time in which you can regularly buy insurance. You can only get insurance outside of the enrollment period if you qualify for the Special Enrollment Period, are getting insurance through an employer with their own enrollment schedule, or if you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). According to healthcare.gov, the special enrollment period is only open to those who have recently lost their insurance, moved, gotten married, had a baby, or adopted a child. You can find out if you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP by filling out the exemption form on HealthCare.gov.

How Can I Enroll for Health Care?

Enrollment can be done online, in person, over the phone, or by mail.

To enroll for the first time online, log into https://www.healthcare.gov/create-account.

If you have previously created an account, you can log back into https://www.healthcare.gov/login.

To enroll over the phone call 1-800-318-259 or 1-855-889-4325 if you are calling with a Text Telephone/TTY.

You can apply in person with the help of a certified assistor. You can find a certified assistor in the local area by putting your zip code into https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/#/.

To apply through the mail you can fill out this form: https://marketplace.cms.gov/applications-and-forms/marketplace-application-for-family.pdf.

If you apply through the mail it will take two weeks to hear back about your eligibility. You can then use the marketplace phone line or use an account on to enroll.

Am I Still Required to Have Insurance?

Yes. As part of the Affordable Care Act (colloquially known to as ObamaCare) you are required to have insurance or may face a financial penalty. This has not changed.

There are exceptions to this in some circumstances, including financial status and having experienced certain hardships. You can find out if you are exempted from having health insurance by applying on

What is the biggest change to health care enrollment this year?

There will be less time to enroll and fewer reminders about the enrollment period.

This year the enrollment period will only run from November 1st through December 15th. There is a reduced budget for open enrollment advertising by the federal government, so there will not be as many or as frequent advertisements about the enrollment period on TV, the radio, online, and elsewhere. Save the dates and try to set up reminders on your phone or calendar about the enrollment period so that you do not forget.

open-enrollment-dates_local-health-care

Premiums have gone up and you should shop around for a new plan

Insurance premiums are rising, but don’t panic about a major change in your monthly payments just yet. Since there were multiple attempts to end the Affordable Care Act this year, insurers were uneasy about the future of the market, and as a result of an unsure market, premiums went up. However, around 85 percent of all consumers in the market place receive subsites on their insurance, payments from the federal government that ensure health care remains reasonably affordable.

Despite this however, it’s important to remember to reenter your information this year, including yearly income and family members, instead of automatically reenrolling in a plan. According to an analysis by Time, because of the shift in premiums, you are likely to get a better deal if you “shop” for a new plan this year. The particulars of subsidies change year to year depending on market forces, and to take full advantage of them and avoid a hike in premiums by looking at all available options will likely save you money. According to the New York Times, some “Gold” level plans, which are typically more expensive, may actually be cheaper than some “Silver” level plans this year, which have seen the highest premium rate increases.

If you are part of the 15 percent of consumers who earn too much to qualify for subsites, you may see a rise in rates.

Save money through direct primary care

You can also save a substantial amount of money by taking part in a Direct Primary Care (DPC) system, such as the services offered by MultiCare Physicians DPC of Lake Mary.

Direct Primary Care is not a replacement for health insurance, but it can help offset the expense by offering low-cost monthly fees for services directly through doctors.

DPC also offers telemedicine, an online doctor’s appointment between you and your healthcare provider, and Costco-like discounts on meds, labs, and imaging… for less than the price of a daily cup of coffee!