Are You Insured?
The Affordable Care Act is still law, and HeathCare.gov offers affordable, comprehensive coverage for 2021. Open Enrollment runs from November 1 and lasts through December 15. That’s only six weeks (unless you have a life event that qualifies you for a Special Enrollment period, or you live in a state with its own marketplace) to find a plan or change to a plan that better fits your needs.
Note: if you lost coverage more than 60 days ago, but since January 1, 2020, and didn’t enroll sooner because you were impacted by the COVID-19 emergency declared by FEMA, you may still qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Just like years past, financial assistance is still available. Last year 4.7 million people in the US were eligible for a plan with no monthly premium.
We know 6 weeks is a short time, but don’t worry. Below are the resources and reminders to help you get your plan in time.
Do Your Research
Before signing up for health insurance, you’ll need some documentation. Here’s a checklist of everything required.
Also, before you look at available plans make a list of what matters to you when getting health care. Do you want to stay with your current doctor? Do you worry about needing coverage away from home? Understand your health needs first and then find a plan that fits.
Finally, some states have their own health care exchanges, and several have slightly different enrollment periods. While HeathCare.gov will guide you to state specific marketplaces, we’ve listed them below, along with their enrollment periods, and their websites:
- California: November 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021 (Covered California)
- Colorado: November 1, 2020 to January 1, 2021 (Connect for Health Colorado)
- Connecticut: November 1 to December 15, 2020 (Access Health CT)
- District of Columbia: November 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021 (DC Health Link)
- Idaho: November 1 to December 15, 2020 (Your Health Idaho)
- Maryland: November 1 to December 15, 2020 (Maryland Health Connection)
- Massachusetts: November 1, 2020 to January 23, 2021 (Massachusetts Health Connector)
- Minnesota: November 1 to December 22, 2020 (MNSure)
- Nevada: November 1, 2020 to January 15, 2021 (Nevada Health Link)
- New Jersey: November 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021 (Get Covered NJ)
- New York: November 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021 (New York State of Health)
- Rhode Island: November 1 to December 31, 2020 (HealthSource RI)
- Vermont: November 1 to December 15, 2020 (Vermont Health Connect)
- Washington: November 1 to December 15, 2020 (Washington Healthplanfinder)
If you don’t have insurance right now go to HealthCare.gov or CuidadodeSalud.gov and fill out an application. This ensures the plan you buy will be ACA compliant and not a short-term plan that could leave you with large medical bills. You’ll have comprehensive benefits, including preventive care, birth control, maternity care, and mental health care. What’s more, when shopping for a plan on HealthCare.gov you cannot be charged more based on your health status or gender, and you will never be asked about your medical history. These protections may not be there when buying a plan not through the marketplace so stick to healthcare.gov or your state marketplace listed above.
If you already have health insurance through the ACA, you should still make sure all your information is up to date. It’s also a good idea to browse available plans, as the plan you have this year may not be the best value available for you in 2021. It always pays to shop around.
The health insurance marketplace allows you to compare different plans to select the one that’s the best fit for you. You can sort plans by the cost of premiums, or by how much you might expect to pay in deductibles before coverage begins. While you look keep in mind the list you made of things that matter to you in health coverage. If you need foreign language help, have questions, or want help choosing a plan, use the Get Covered Connector to find appointments with local application assistors.
Know Your Benefits
Once you’ve found and purchased your plan take some time to familiarize yourself with the benefits it offers.
Plans sold through the health insurance marketplace must cover at least one option for each FDA-approved birth control method without copays or deductibles. These rules apply to all marketplace plans, so your 2021 plan should cover your preferred birth control method. When you go to the pharmacy to pick up your pill pack or to your health care provider to have an IUD put in, the cost to you should be $0 (note: plans do not have to cover every single brand name).
Beyond birth control, the ACA ensures that many other women’s preventive health services are fully covered. There’s a long list of benefits; they include well-woman visits, STI counseling, and a wide variety of prenatal screenings and tests.
Six weeks can go by quickly but enrolling at the last minute could increase your chances of experiencing technical difficulties as the website gets busy right before Open Enrollment ends, and the traffic can cause major technical glitches. Don’t wait and let the stress of finding insurance build up, whether you’re buying insurance for the first time or shopping around to see if there’s a better option for you, feel good about staying on top of your health.