It’s the Open Enrollment period for health care. Americans are required to enroll in a health insurance plan in order to comply with the Affordable Care Act. Those who do not enroll during Open Enrollment could face a penalty.
What is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment is the period of time during which people that are eligible can enroll in a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you are not already enrolled in a public or private health care plan or do not have health insurance through an employer-provided plan, you are eligible for Open Enrollment. This is the only time you can enroll for health insurance, unless you have a “qualifying life event”. A few qualifying life events include getting married or divorced, having a baby, or losing your job.
Note: You can apply for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any time during the year.
When is Open Enrollment?
Open Enrollment starts on November 1, 2015 and ends January 31, 2016. Your health care coverage can start as early as January 1, 2016. If you do not enroll during this period, you may be penalized.
If I was previously enrolled, what do I need to do?
If you enrolled in private health insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace during the previous Open Enrollment, you will automatically be enrolled in the same plan, unless you take action. The government and your insurance company will send you a notice by mail or email. If you choose to change your plan, the notices you receive will give you instructions on how to make changes.
If you are enrolled in Medicaid or the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, you are required to re-enroll in health coverage every 12 months. Renewal for these plans is not automatic.
If I was not previously enrolled, what do I need to do?
If you have not previously enrolled in health coverage, you will need to enroll during the Open Enrollment period. As part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), U.S. residents are required to obtain and maintain health insurance coverage. If you do not enroll in health insurance during the Open Enrollment period, or you do not enroll in Medicaid or CHIP, you may be subject to tax penalties at the end of the year. The penalty fee has increased from $325 or 2 percent of taxable income in 2015 to $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of taxable income in 2016.
Health Coverage Fee Exemptions
There are exemptions from having to pay the penalty for not having health care coverage. You are exempt if you have certain religious beliefs, are a member of a Native American tribe, or are an undocumented immigrant. For a full list of exemptions, visit Healthcare.gov.
Affordable Care Act Financial Assistance
Depending on your income level and family size, the government may offer financial assistance to help pay for health coverage.
How Do I Enroll?
There are 4 ways to apply for health insurance: online at HealthCare.gov, by phone, by mail, or in-person with the help of a trained assister or navigator.
UnityPoint Health has Certified Application Counselors available by appointment to assist you in enrollment. To schedule a free in-person meeting with a Certified Application Counselor, please call UnityPoint Health at 1-888-275-5235.
How Can UnityPoint Health Help Me?
UnityPoint Health is here for you. We are committed to making sure that you and your family not only stay healthy, but get the answers and support you need to make the best decisions for your health insurance coverage. UnityPoint Health offers free individual appointments with Certified Application Counselors to answer questions, clear up confusion, and guide you through enrollment.
Schedule a free meeting with a Certified Application Counselor today, or call 1-888-275-5235.