Open Enrollment for 2015 has closed. Open Enrollment to purchase insurance for 2016 will run from November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
But if you are uninsured and filing your taxes after February 15, you will have another opportunity to enroll in insurance between March 15 and April 30, 2015.
The ACA has improved benefits for Americans in a number of ways. Now, seniors on Medicare can get mammograms, colonoscopies, and an annual wellness visit for free, and their prescription drug costs have been greatly reduced as the “donut hole” in coverage is gradually closed. Important preventative services for women, including prenatal care, are now available at no cost as well. And young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26.
If you are eligible for this enrollment period, you should visit healthcare.gov and log into your Marketplace account, or, if this is your first time shopping in the Marketplace, you can set up an account. If you had coverage last year, your application will be pre-filled with your information. You should check and update your personal information, such as income, household size, and contact information. Even a small change could affect the size of your premium tax credit that helps pay for your insurance and the cost of your monthly premium.
You can compare 2015 plan costs and benefits and select the plan that works best for you. A new plan may be available, or premiums may have changed from last year if you previously window shopped. You can search for your current plan using your 14-digit ID. Depending on your income and your access to other affordable health insurance, you may be eligible for premium tax credits and other subsidies that will help pay for your premiums. More than 8 out of 10 people who signed up last year qualified for federal subsidies to help pay premiums and the subsidies lowered the cost of their coverage by an average of 76%.
Remember: April 30, 2015 is the deadline for this one-time Special Enrollment Period.
There are a number of community organizations that are offering free help to sign up for health coverage. If you live in or near Travis County, there are several Insure Central Texas Enrollment Centers open 7 days a week; for a list of locations and hours, click here. For a full listing of places near you to get enrollment assistance, click here and enter your zip code or city.
I hope that the information I provide here is helpful to you. I also encourage you to get information about the Affordable Care Act from objective sources like the AARP, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and American Cancer Society. Armed with the facts, you will be able to make informed health care decisions for you and your family.