Fall is here, and that means it’s time to start thinking about open enrollment for your health insurance needs in 2016. The open enrollment period begins next month on November 1 and runs until January 31 of 2016. Though it may sound like you have plenty of time to make your selections, it’s never too early to start gathering the information you need to make sure you choose just the right amount of health coverage for your needs and your family’s needs. Here’s what you need to know:
- The enrollment period of medical insurance ends on January 31. Miss that deadline and you’ll probably have to wait until next November to obtain coverage.
- If you don’t choose a new option, you may wind up being re-enrolled under your current plan options.
- Simply repeating the coverage options you have this year may be the simplest option, but it may not be the best. Health insurance coverage options may have changed since the last open enrollment period, so do your homework and “run the numbers” to make sure the selections you made last year still make sense.
- If you fail to enroll, you’ll have to pay a fine (or what the government refers to as a “fee”) – either $695 per person ($347.50 for each child under the age of 18) or 2.5 percent of your yearly household income, whichever is higher. That’s substantially more than last year, when the penalty was either 2 percent of your household income or $325 per person.
- You may be able to enroll later if you meet certain qualifications – for instance, if you get married, lose your job and the health benefits that go along with it, move to a new residence or have a baby. You can see the complete list of qualifications here.
- The limited enrollment period does not apply to those on Medicaid or CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).
- You can sign up for reminders directly from the gov website so you don’t forget important dates, and learn about new features that can make enrollment easier to manage.
Don’t forget: Open enrollment for health insurance is only available for a limited time. Miss the deadline, and you’ll have to wait until next year to get the insurance you need – and that means you could wind up paying some very expensive medical costs out of your own pocket in the meantime. To learn more about the open enrollment period or to find out how to choose the best medical and health coverage for you and your family, visit Healthcare.gov.