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By Chelsea Foote

Oncology Social Worker on 11/19/2017

Open Enrollment – what does it mean and why is it important?

Open Enrollment Dates: Affordable Care Act/Marketplace – November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017
*Florida residents have an extended deadline of December 31, 2017 due to Hurricane Irma

Over recent years, health insurance has changed drastically. These include changes in costs, coverage, benefits, and the mandate requiring all US citizens and legal residents to have health insurance or a penalty will be owed when you file taxes. October through December are important months for those who are eligible for Medicare and those who purchase their insurance through the Marketplace. This time period is called “Open Enrollment”, and this is the one time a year that you can make changes to your plans. Any changes made at this time will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about The Affordable Care Act. It has not been repealed, but there have been some changes, one of the largest being the shortened enrollment period. Auto-renewal can be a great benefit; however, many of the plans change year to year, including the cost, the providers, and what is covered. It is imperative that as a consumer, look into the various options in the marketplace and also speak with an insurance broker. One thing that has not changed is the pre-existing clause. You cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

  • Myth – The Affordable Care Act was repealed
  • Truth – Anyone can shop for insurance coverage through www.healthcare.gov
  • Myth – Auto-Renewal will insure I have the same plan next year
  • Truth – The website will be “shut down” from 12am – 12pm every Sunday, except 12/10/17
     

Open Enrollment Dates: Medicare – October 15, 2017 through December 7, 2017

Medicare Advantage plans and Supplements are also only available for enrollment during this period. Medicare Advantage plans usually have a lower premium or no premium, however, there are copayments for each service you receive. Medicare Supplements usually have a higher premium, depending on the plan, but there are lower out-of-pocket expenses for services received. As people retire, they often travel more – either out of state or out of the country. This is something to consider when purchasing a Medicare plan.

  • Medicare Advantage HMO’s may only cover ER visits or Urgent Care visits if you’re out of network
  • Medicare Advantage PPO’s may allow for travel with much higher out of pocket cost if you are not within the plans network
  • Medicare Supplements allow you to travel and use services any place you go that accepts original Medicare.

If you have questions, concerns, or need additional information go to www.healthcare.gov or reach out to an insurance broker. Remember, the time to enroll is very limited this year! To get ready to apply for the 2018 Marketplace coverage please click here

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