When is the new health reform open enrollment period?
If you have health insurance through an employer, you’ve surely heard the phrase “open enrollment season” before. That’s the time when you pick your health plan for the coming benefit year. For most of us with employer coverage, open enrollment happens between October and December.
But now there’s a new open enrollment period coming to town, and it’s going to be a doozy.
According to rules issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Affordable Care Act is going to create an open enrollment period for people who don’t have employer coverage. This is a big deal. Most of these consumers – many of whom are uninsured today – will be required to purchase coverage in 2014.
The first individual market open enrollment period will begin in October of 2013 – that’s when the new health insurance exchanges are due to open – and will run through March of 2014.
When open enrollment comes, people without employer-based coverage who earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level may be eligible for government subsidies to help them buy coverage for 2014. During open enrollment, they’ll be able to purchase plans and obtain subsidies through government health insurance exchanges, or through licensed web-based entities (where available) working in cooperation with state exchanges.
People earning more than 400% of the federal poverty level who have no employer-based coverage will still be required to purchase coverage on their own, though they won’t be eligible to receive subsidies. These consumers will be able to purchase health insurance through licensed agents of their choice, direct from the insurer, or through their state exchange website.
Next year the federally-defined open enrollment period will be cut in half, running from October 2014 through December 2014. However, states will have the option to create additional open enrollment periods within their own borders.
Outside of an open enrollment period in 2014, you’ll only be able to enroll in an individual health insurance plan when a qualifying event occurs. These could include the birth of a child, marriage, or the loss of employer-based health insurance coverage, among other things.
Stay tuned in the months to come and we’ll keep you informed about open enrollment for 2014 and everything else you need to know about our health reform future.