Open Enrollment Season
by Mary E. McCraw, CFP®
With the end of the year approaching, there are important dates to keep in mind regarding health insurance and other employer benefits. Below are some important dates and considerations, regardless of your health insurance situation.
Open Enrollment with Employer plans
If you are covered under an employer plan, end of year is a common time for Open Enrollment within companies. This is the time each year you are allowed to make changes to various benefit plans. We recommend evaluating all benefits at this time, not just health insurance. Human Resources should be able to provide a summary of current benefits. This is a great time to review retirement plan contributions, life insurance and disability coverage as well.
Medicare Open Enrollment
Annual Open Enrollment – October 15th to December 7th. Open enrollment is the period each year when you are allowed to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for the first time, change to a new Medicare Advantage plan, join a prescription drug plan or change your current prescription drug plan. Even if you are happy with your current coverage, this is a great time to review your plan and take notice of any changes being made for next year. Your current plan should have already sent out their Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) detailing any changes to the plan starting January 2019.
Health Insurance Exchange Enrollment
Annual Open Enrollment – November 1st to December 15th (for coverage that starts January 1st). Since the launch of the Healthcare Exchanges (Affordable Care Act or Obamacare) there has been a lot of confusion about who should be using this avenue for health insurance. In general, the health exchanges are for two groups of people: those who do not currently have health insurance and those who are purchasing it on their own (not covered by an employer’s plan). Most of our clients are covered under group plans through employers or eligible for Medicare (the exchange is not for Medicare). However, there are situations in which clients lose their group coverage – such as leaving a job, getting divorced or deciding to start their own small business. Also, it may be an option for many adult children who may lose their parent’s coverage before entering a group plan.
If you do not have group coverage or Medicare, you do not have to purchase your health insurance on the exchange. However, there are subsidies available based on income limits and household size. In order to obtain a subsidy, if you qualify, you will need to purchase a plan off of the exchange. You can quickly see if you (or your child) will qualify for a subsidy on www.healthcare.gov. If you do, the entire application process, including selecting a plan, can be completed online. If you do not qualify for subsidy, we recommend contacting an independent insurance agent who can help you evaluate all of your options – both on and off the exchange.
Whatever your situation, we would be happy to help you evaluate your options or refer you to an independent insurance agent for assistance.