Are You Insured?
Originally published November 2017, this article is updated annually with the latest information about ACA Marketplace and Open Enrollment.
Everyone deserves access to high-quality, evidence-based health care. A key element of receiving that care is health insurance. HeathCare.gov offers affordable, comprehensive coverage. Open Enrollment for 2022 runs from November 1 and lasts through January 15. That’s 11 weeks to either sign up for health insurance or change your plan for another that better fits your needs for the upcoming year.
Just like years past, financial assistance is still available. It’s estimated that around 6 million uninsured people in the US are eligible for a plan with no monthly premium. And this year even more financial assistance is available this year due to the passage of the American Rescue Act. To help you prepare, below are four things to consider as your search the marketplace for a plan.
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 provider? Do you worry about needing coverage away from home? Will you have any dependents on your plan? 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, 2021 to January 31, 2022 (Covered California)
- Colorado: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (Connect for Health Colorado)
- Connecticut: November 1 January 15, 2022 (Access Health CT)
- District of Columbia: November 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022 (DC Health Link)
- Idaho: November 1 to December 15, 2021 (Your Health Idaho)
- Kentucky: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (kynect)
- Maine: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (CoverME)
- Maryland: November 1 to January 15, 2022 (Maryland Health Connection)
- Massachusetts: November 1, 2021 to January 23, 2022 (Massachusetts Health Connector)
- Minnesota: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (MNSure)
- Nevada: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (Nevada Health Link)
- New Jersey: November 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022 (Get Covered NJ)
- New Mexico: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (BeWellNM)
- New York: November 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022 (New York State of Health)
- Pennsylvania: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (Pennie)
- Rhode Island: November 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022 (HealthSource RI)
- Vermont: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (Vermont Health Connect)
- Washington: November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022 (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 2022. 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 2022 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.