If you’re confused about how to enroll in Obamacare, you’re not alone. Now that Obamacare’s Open Enrollment Period is over, you’ll need to sign up using a Special Enrollment Period or consider a short-term health insurance alternative.
The Open Enrollment Period has become much shorter over the past few years, and conflicting news around the stability of the Affordable Care Act put people into high tension. Rest assured, though, that Obamacare-compliant plans will still be available in 2020 and beyond.
What You Need to Apply for or Auto-Renew a Health Insurance Plan
Open enrollment for 2019 health insurance coverage ran from November 1st, 2018, through December 15, 2018 (several states had additional time). During that time you could choose a new Obamacare-qualified health plan or, depending on your state’s exchange, re-enroll in your current coverage. However, you can still chose an Obamacare plan during a special enrollment period.Check your health insurance plan each year to make sure that it's still the right option. Click To Tweet
Once you’ve selected the best health insurance plan for you and your family, the difficult part is done. Make the application and enrollment process as quick and painless as possible by having the necessary documents and information on hand.
Obamacare Application and Enrollment Checklist
If you are changing health plans or applying for health insurance for the first time, then gather the following:
- Social Security numbers and birth dates for each applicant
- Income-related documents for all applicants
- Federal W-2 form
- Recent pay stubs
- Previous year’s tax return
- Policy numbers for each applicant’s current health insurance coverage
- Information about employer-sponsored health plans for which you or your family members are eligible, whether or not you are enrolled in this coverage
- Banking information to pay the first month’s premium
Automatic Re-enrollment Checklist
Many health insurance plans will automatically renew each year. If your plan is set for auto-renewal, you should receive a notice that includes updated monthly rates and other details from your health insurance company.
Here is what you need to do before auto-renewal occurs:
- Make sure the plan you have still works for your and your family:
- Does the new premium, deductible and benefits still fit your healthcare needs and household budget?
- Will you still have in-network access to the same providers?
- Are your current prescription medications on the 2019 drug formulary?
- Report income and household size changes to your health insurance provider if you receive subsidies—if you fail to do so, you may wind up owing the IRS money when you file your taxes or you may lose out on a larger subsidy.
Subsidies will renew as well, unless any income verification documents you supplied when you applied for coverage do not match the income you reported at that time.
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