Getting Covered in 2020
UPDATE: The deadline for Open Enrollment has been extended until 3am on Wednesday, December 18!
The Affordable Care Act is still law, and HeathCare.gov is selling affordable, comprehensive coverage for 2020. Open Enrollment runs from November 1 and lasts through December 15. That’s only six weeks (unless you have a qualifying life event or you live in a state with its own marketplace) to find a plan or change to a plan that better fits your needs. And just like years past, financial assistance is still available. You could join the 4.5 million people in the US that qualified last year for a plan with no monthly premium.
We know that seems like a short time, but don’t worry. Here are the resources and reminders to help you get your plan in time.
Before You Shop
Before you can sign up for health insurance, you’ll need certain paperwork. Here’s a handy checklist of all the things you’ll require. Remember to cross items off the list as you track them down.
Also, before you even 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 travel frequently for work (or play!) and 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 healthcare exchanges, and several have slightly longer 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: October 15, 2019 to January 31, 2020 (Covered California)
- Colorado: November 1, 2019 to January 15, 2020 (Connect for Health Colorado)
- Connecticut: November 1 to December 15, 2019 (Access Health CT)
- District of Columbia: November 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020 (DC Health Link)
- Idaho: November 1 to December 16, 2019 (Your Health Idaho)
- Maryland: November 1 to December 15, 2019 (Maryland Health Connection)
- Massachusetts: November 1, 2019 to January 23, 2020 (Massachusetts Health Connector)
- Minnesota: November 1 to December 23, 2019 (MNSure)
- Nevada: November 1 to December 15, 2019 (Nevada Health Link)
- New York: November 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020 (New York State of Health)
- Rhode Island: November 1 to December 31, 2019 (HealthSource RI)
- Vermont: November 1 to December 15, 2019 (Vermont Health Connect)
- Washington: November 1 to December 15, 2019 (Washington Healthplanfinder)
Ready, Set, Shop!
If you don’t have insurance start with o 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. That means it provides 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 2020. 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 2020 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, but 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.