The next 2015 open-enrollment deadline falls on Jan. 15. If you need a health insurance plan for the new year or want to change plans, enroll by then to begin coverage on Feb. 1.Don’t risk a gap in health insurance or start the new year with inadequate benefits for which you may be paying too much. There are several plan options available that could lower your monthly premiums and medical deductibles—and our analysis shows you could save up to $700 by shopping around.
As you explore your 2015 coverage options, keep these important dates in mind:
- Enroll by Jan. 15, 2015 — coverage effective Feb. 1, 2015
- Enroll between Jan. 16 and Feb. 15, 2015 — coverage effective March 1, 2015
- Open enrollment ends Feb. 15, 2015. You must qualify for a special enrollment period to buy health insurance after this date.
Health insurance plans that qualify as minimum essential coverage and fulfill the individual shared responsibility provision may be purchased through state exchanges and the federal marketplace, as well as in the private marketplace through agents and brokers, from health insurance carriers, and on websites such as HealthCare.com.
Buyer’s remorse? There’s time to change your mind.
Whether you let your plan automatically renew or wish you’d shopped around a bit more, know that you can still change your mind. Explore what’s available. Through the federal marketplace alone, the average person has 27.9 plan options that would lower monthly premiums.
If you still have a grandfathered plan, now may be the time to consider a qualified health plan developed to fulfill Affordable Care Act requirements.
- You can no longer be denied coverage or charged more based on your health history or preexisting conditions.
- Subsidies can help lower your premiums when you shop your state exchange or the federal marketplace—use HealthCare.com’s subsidy calculator to estimate your premium tax credit.
- Plans sold on and away from the state exchanges and federal marketplace include:
- No-cost preventive care as specified by the law
- Items and services in 10 categories of essential health benefits
- Annual out-of-pocket spending limits—what you pay out of pocket is capped
- No annual or lifetime cap on what health insurance companies pay toward essential health benefits
You have through the end of 2015 open enrollment, which concludes Feb. 15, to enroll in a different health insurance plan for the year ahead. Again, even if you already enrolled in 2015 coverage, you can switch to different 2015 coverage. If you do enroll in another health plan, be sure to cancel your former policy as soon as possible to prevent double billing.
Avoid a penalty. It may be costlier than you think.
If you go without minimum essential coverage in 2015, you may have to pay for healthcare entirely out of pocket and could put your finances as risk. Plus, unless you qualify for an exemption, you may owe the shared responsibility payment when you file your 2015 taxes next spring. In 2015, the penalty is the higher of these amounts:
- A flat dollar amount of $325 per adult and $162.50 per child under 18, up to a family maximum of $325
- 2 percent of your household income above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status
You can calculate your Obamacare tax penalty fee if you choose to skip coverage. This penalty is capped at the cost of the national average premium for a bronze plan sold through the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges.
Shop, enroll, get help with the process
Plan options, subsidies and personal circumstances change. What worked for 2014 may not be your best bet for 2015. Check out our Everything You Need to Know About Shopping for Health Insurance infographic for a simple, step-by-step explanation of how to shop for coverage.
If you have questions or need additional assistance, help is available. Call 877-275-0485 to talk to a licensed health insurance agent from one of our trusted partners.
Remember: You must enroll by Jan. 15 to begin your health insurance plan on Feb. 1. Open enrollment concludes on Feb. 15. After that you will have to qualify for a special enrollment period to buy coverage.
 Internal Revenue Service. “The Individual Shared Responsibility Provision.” Last reviewed Nov. 28, 2014. http://www.irs.gov/uac/Individual-Shared-Responsibility-Provision.