Health Insurance Changes for 2019 That You Need to Know
As most Americans know, health insurance is by no means simple. In addition to that, there are a lot of health insurance changes to consider for the upcoming year. Here are some things to keep in mind as we move into the enrollment period.
New Enrollment Deadlines
The deadlines to enroll in a health insurance plan for the new year have changed. For most states, the enrollment period will open on November 1st and run through December 15th. Any plan you choose will begin covering you on January 1st, 2019.
However, some states have different enrollment periods. Here’s a breakdown:
- California: October 15th through January 15th
- Colorado: November 1st through January 15th
- District of Columbia: November 1st through January 31st
- Massachusetts: November 1st through January 23rd
- Minnesota: November 1st through January 13th
- New York: November 1st through January 31st
- Rhode Island: November 1st through January 31st
In these states, you will need to confirm when your coverage will be starting. If you enter a plan after December 15th, 2018 during the extended enrollment period as coverage may not start until February or March 2019 if you enroll late.
With that said, regardless of whether or not your state offers extended enrollment, you should make it a priority to enroll sooner rather than later.
Health Insurance Is No Longer Required
A relief to some, health insurance is no longer required. This is one of the biggest health insurance changes next year. In 2017, Congress chose to eliminate the “individual mandate penalty” that previously required every American to hold health insurance under the ACA. This means, come tax time, you won’t be penalized if you don’t have health insurance.
Despite this, even though it is no longer required by law, it is still a good idea to have solid health insurance coverage. So, be certain to weigh your options and the disadvantages before you drop your plan altogether.
Make Changes Before December 15th
If you have considered making health insurance changes to your plan, now is the time to do it. During the open enrollment period, you will be able to renew your current plan or choose a new plan from a private insurance provider or your state’s marketplace.
Any person who is currently enrolled in a plan offered through their state’s marketplace will automatically have their coverage renewed. So, if you are in that situation but you would like to make changes, be certain to notify your provider that you’d like to change or cancel your current plan.
Despite the fact that a marketplace plan will automatically renew, bear in mind that the provider may make health insurance changes to the plan. That means you need to pay special attention to the network of providers, co-pays, co-insurance, and prescription drug coverage as it may change for 2019.
Choose From Four Levels of Health Insurance Plans
You have plenty of options, and that can mean great confusion when choosing a health insurance plan. To break things down, there are four levels of health insurance plans available on the marketplace.
Bronze has the highest out-of-pocket expenses but lower premiums. The next one up is silver, then gold, and then platinum. Platinum has the highest premiums but the least out-of-pocket expenses for covered services.
Most people will choose a plan somewhere in the middle.
It’s important to read the fine print and compare your options. Doing your research is a hassle, but it’s also paramount to ensuring that you are getting proper coverage for yourself and/or your family.
To give you peace of mind, however, every plan is required to provide at least some coverage for these 10 essential things:
- Outpatient care, including that for management of chronic diseases
- Emergency care
- Pregnancy care and newborn care
- Mental health services and substance abuse services
- Prescription drugs
- Rehabilitation services and devices
- Laboratory testing
- Preventative and wellness services
- For children, dental and vision care
The amount of coverage, and its cost, is something you’ll need to weigh with careful consideration.
Common Concerns About Open Enrollment
Every year, many questions come up about the open enrollment period and how it may affect individuals and families. Here are the answers to some common questions.
What Is Open Enrollment For?
There is always some confusion about what the open enrollment period is for. The open enrollment period only applies to marketplace health insurance plans.
When it comes time to decide on your health insurance plan, compare your marketplace options to private insurance and an employer-sponsored plan that your job may offer. An employer-sponsored plan will typically be more affordable than an individual plan.
Also, bear in mind that the open enrollment period/deadlines do not apply to car insurance, life insurance, or long-term care insurance. They also do not apply to Medicare. The fall enrollment period for Medicare coverage runs from October 15th through December 7th.
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What If I Miss The Open Enrollment Period?
Unfortunately, missing the open enrollment period means that you might have to wait a full year before you can sign up for health insurance.
In other words, if you miss your state’s enrollment deadline for 2019 coverage, you may not be able to enroll in a health insurance plan until the 2019 enrollment period. This means no health insurance coverage until 2020.
However, there are certain life events that may trigger a special enrollment period. For instance, the death of a spouse who you previously had insurance with would enable you to enroll in health insurance at any time of the year. Divorce would do the same. In the event that you get married, you and your new spouse may have special options for enrolling in a joint plan.
The birth or adoption of a child can also qualify your family for a special enrollment period. Other qualifications include if a spouse who was insuring the family through their employer loses their job. Or if your hours are cut and you becoming ineligible for an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.
How do you feel about the health insurance changes?
There’s quite a few health insurance changes ahead. Be sure to consider your personal situation to make sure you stay ahead of the changes.