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Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Open Enrollment: What You Need To Know

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is now easier for the average American to access affordable health insurance than ever before. Although there are criteria for eligibility, Obamacare, as it is more commonly known, is relatively easy to apply for. But you have to do so in the Open Enrollment period.

What exactly does this mean, and when is the enrollment period? What happens if you need health insurance but miss the deadline? In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about Obamacare Open Enrollment.

Overview Of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Enrollment

The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. It aimed to reform the state of healthcare and access to health insurance in the United States. 

As the history and timeline of this important health-reform law show, the path to Obamacare was not an easy one. The ACA was met with resistance at first, but people soon realized that it was the solution to their healthcare woes.

However, it seems as though Obamacare is here to stay, and with the addition of President Joe Biden’s health plan, even more Americans stand to benefit. Subsidies, at first intended to be short-term relief, have been extended through 2025 and there are plans to make prescription drugs even more affordable.

The goal of Obamacare is to make healthcare accessible to everyone by making health insurance more accessible. It has ensured that millions of Americans who would otherwise have remained uninsured, are now covered. But some criteria have to be met for Obamacare enrollment. 

Eligibility Requirements For Obamacare Enrollment

To qualify for ACA/Obamacare coverage, you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • A US citizen or legal resident
  • Over the age of 18
  • Currently not incarcerated
  • Without employer-sponsored insurance
  • Not covered by a spouse or parent’s health insurance

If this is a first-time application, you may be required to submit documents verifying your citizenship or legal residency, total income, and employment status. This will make it easier to follow the steps for Obamacare enrollment.

Deadlines For Obamacare Enrollment

Obamacare Open Enrollment is the officially allotted time in which to submit applications for ACA health insurance plans and subsidies. This runs from 1 November to 15 January every year, in most states. In some states, these dates may differ slightly, but you can check this on the ACA website.

This enrollment period was fixed at these dates because coverage with most ACA health insurance plans commences on the first of January. However, missing the deadline is not necessarily a problem. You may qualify for a special enrollment period, or you could get short-term insurance coverage to bridge the gap. 

Special enrollment is only applicable if you missed the deadline due to a major life event. This could be as a result of hospitalization, a death in the family, or the birth of a child. If your circumstances don’t qualify for special enrollment, short-term coverage is your best bet while you wait for the next enrollment period.

How To Enroll In Obamacare

Before you decide to enroll in Obamacare, check that you meet all the eligibility requirements. You can go onto the official ACA Marketplace at healthcare.gov and sign up during the Open Enrollment Period. 

Remember to have those copies of financial and employment records available, in case these are asked for. They will be especially important if you are applying for an ACA subsidy. Be sure to apply during the Open Enrollment Period as outlined in the above section. 

However, if you sign up on the ACA website, you’ll have to go through all the available plans, read all the fine print, and then choose the one that suits your needs. This can be a daunting process and there’s a lot of complex information to go through. 

That’s why it’s best to work with experienced insurance brokers to help you truly understand your options and select one that is right for you. At Enhance Health, we can guide you through the process of enrolling in Obamacare and take the stress off your shoulders. We have helped Americans from all over the country choose a plan and effortlessly sign up for Obamacare.

The Benefits Of Obamacare

The benefits of Obamacare are not hard to see. Here are our top seven Obamacare benefits.

  1. It’s easier to get health insurance now, with a dedicated website featuring all the ACA-compliant health plans. You can also apply for subsidies, renew your insurance for another year, or switch to a different plan all on the same platform.
  1. A wide variety of insurance options are available, to suit all types of people. No matter your budget, or financial status, you’ll find one that’s right for you.
  1. Subsidies are available to those who need help affording their insurance. There are cost reductions that reduce your upfront costs like copays, and premium tax credits that make your monthly contributions more affordable.
  1. People with pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be denied coverage. Before the ACA, many people living with chronic illnesses were denied coverage by insurance companies.
  1. Unlike in the past, insurers can no longer impose a dollar limit on the coverage they offer people with existing medical conditions.
  1. Obamacare plans also cover many preventive healthcare services and screenings. This means that you can detect medical conditions earlier, and in some cases, prevent them from developing.
  1. All ACA plans include prescription drug insurance coverage, too. More and more generic drugs are covered by ACA plans every year, and prescription drugs in general are more affordable than they are without Obamacare coverage.

Cost Of Obamacare

Obamacare plans typically cost between $328 and $482 monthly, although the type of plan you have will determine the premium. The insurance provider, and even the state that you live in, may also affect how much you will pay. 

Some insurance providers, and therefore some health plans, are only available in certain states.

If you aren’t sure how to choose the right plan for your medical needs and your budget, we can help. Our team of friendly and capable experts is waiting for your call. Even if you are unemployed and have no regular source of income, we can help find a plan with minimal or even no cost.

Financial Assistance For Obamacare

Although Obamacare has made health insurance more affordable for most citizens, it’s not always that easy to keep up with the costs. Low-income households, the most vulnerable to the impact of inflation and the rising costs of healthcare and prescription drugs, are the hardest hit.

Fortunately, subsidies are available to these households. 

Eligibility for Obamacare subsidies is determined by income level. You may apply for these on the same platform where you sign up for ACA plans. You may be eligible for cost reduction subsidies or premium tax credits if your total net income amounts to between 100 and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

Penalties For Not Enrolling In Obamacare

When Obamacare was signed into law, it became mandatory to apply for health insurance. The federal mandate was later repealed by Congress, but five states and one district retained individual mandates. These were California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. 

The state of Vermont chose to not impose a penalty, although it has retained the mandate. In the other areas with an individual mandate, non-compliance can lead to tax penalties. 

These mandates and penalties are deemed necessary to encourage all US citizens to get health insurance coverage. In the future, more states may follow suit. This is why it is so important to get yourself covered by a good health plan, as soon as possible.

Conclusion

The best time to research your health insurance options is now. There are many ACA plans available, and it takes discernment to know which one is right for you. Need some help with finding an affordable health plan? Contact us today for professional advice and assistance with choosing a health plan.

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