Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace (HealthCare.gov) begins on November 1, 2016 and runs until January 31, 2017. If you will not have health insurance through your job, Medicare, parents, or spouse, you can purchase health insurance for 2017 from the Marketplace. About 12.7 million Americas purchased health insurance plans on the Marketplace during open enrollment last year. As a cancer survivor, it is very important to maintain health insurance. You will need insurance even after treatment ends to cover follow-up care.
When applying for health insurance through the Marketplace, here are some things to remember:
- Depending on your income, you may qualify to save money on your health insurance through advanced premium tax credits. Of people who apply for Marketplace insurance, over 8 out 10 are eligible for lower premiums.
- The exact plans you will be offered through the Marketplace depends on your location and income.
- If you are offered insurance through your job, you can still purchase a plan through the market place, but you will pay full price.
- If you have Medicare, you cannot purchase plans on the Marketplace.
- If you do not have health insurance, you may have to pay a fee when you file your tax returns. The fee for 2016 is $695 for adults or 2.5% of your income (whichever is higher).
- You can purchase insurance on the Marketplace anytime during open enrollment. However, for coverage to start on January 1, 2017, you need to select a plan by December 15, 2016.
- After January 31, 2017, you will only be able to purchase insurance if you qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP). Certain life events such as losing coverage, moving, getting married, or having a child qualify you for an SEP.
Enroll for the First Time
Before creating a login on HealthCare.gov, gather all the information you will need to fill out the application. This will include things such as social security number, employer information, and expected income. Use the Marketplace Application Checklist to make sure you have everything you need. If you do not wish to enroll online, you can also apply by phone, with in-person help, or by paper application. In addition to health insurance, you can also purchase dental insurance on the Marketplace.
Renew or Change Your Plan
During the open enrollment period, use the same username and password to login to your HealthCare.gov account. You do not need to create a new account. Update your information and select a plan for 2017 that meets your needs.
If you already have health insurance through the Marketplace and do not update your information by December 15, 2016, you may be automatically enrolled in the same plan or a similar plan for next year. You will receive two letters before open enrollment begins one from the Marketplace and one from your insurance company. The one from your insurance company will let you know if you will be automatically enrolled in the same or similar plan. Even if you had a 2016 Marketplace plan, not everyone will be automatically enrolled. If you do not receive a letter, call your health insurance company. If you will receive insurance outside of the Marketplace in 2017 such as through a new job or spouse, you may need to cancel your coverage.
Even if you will be automatically enrolled, it best to login before December 15, 2016 and update your information, especially if any of the following have changed:
- household size
Update your income information based on what you expect to earn in 2017, not on your actual income from 2016. If you do not update your information, you may
- pay more premium by not utilizing the premium tax credits
- use more premium tax credit than you qualify to receive and have to pay it back when you file your taxes.
In order to select the best plan for you in 2017, visit HealthCare.gov during open enrollment to compare all your options.
For more information on enrolling in health insurance on the Healthcare Marketplace, visit HealthCare.gov. As a cancer survivor, check out the Cancer Insurance Checklist. The Checklist was created by a partnership of cancer organizations. It’s specially designed to help cancer survivors navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace.