Statistics indicate that 3.1 million people enrolled for marketplace coverage during the 2022 open enrollment period (OEP), an increase of 21% from 2.5 million in the 2021 OEP. The rise in number is either the cause or the effect of different changes that open enrollment has seen in 2022. A
Nonetheless, more people qualify and can afford health insurance plans. For instance, some people are no longer required to pay premiums and are still covered. Others can now afford to pay the premiums because they are lower as a result of the increase in subsidies resulting from the changes.
These changes affect most consumers either directly or indirectly. That is why everyone needs to understand them and what they mean to their coverages.
Here are the five crucial amendments to the Affordable Care Act marketplace in 2022 that you should be aware of:
1. Open enrollment dates are changing
The OEP has been varying from time to time ever since it was introduced. The following schedules have been used from 2014 to 2022:
- 2014: Oct 1 – Mar 31
- 2015: Nov 15 – Feb 15
- 2016: Nov 1 – Jan 31
- 2017: Nov 1 – Jan 31
- 2018: Nov 1 – Dec 15
- 2019: Nov 1 – Dec 15
- 2020: Nov 1 – Dec 15
- 2021: Nov 1 – Dec 15
- 2022: Nov 1 – Jan 15
Remember that different states have their own OEP, so you should take a look at your state’s website for more details.
For 2022, those who wish to register have nearly 11 weeks to sign up for or change or switch their policies. State-run marketplaces can keep the enrollment period longer. For example, Washington and New York have a deadline of January 31.
The marketplace sends an alert before November 1 notifying people about the approaching period, the dates, and any other relevant information, such as premiums and amendments to benefits.
Suppose you don’t receive the notification and miss this enrollment window. In that case, the only way to sign up or update your coverage is through other coverage options, which you have to qualify for.
Just because the enrollment period has been extended doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute. The date your coverage takes effect depends on when you sign up or make the changes.
If you complete your enrollment or changes on or prior to December 15, your coverage commences on January 1. If you complete it later than December 15, your coverage commences on February
2. Plan choices and premiums will change in 2022
Like enrollment dates, premiums for marketplaces change every year. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reports that they have reduced the premiums charged for benchmark plans by an average of 3% in 2022. This means more people will be able to afford them.
However, qualified insurance premiums may slightly increase, on average, in some state-run marketplaces. As you browse the marketplace, you will notice that there are more choices this year than in 2021.
It’s common to find enrollees with up to seven coverage options in 2022, while in 2021, they were limited to four or five. This is partly due to the number of insurers that have come up.
According to HealthCare.gov, the number of insurers in the marketplace will increase by 32 to 213. Others, like Aetna, Oscar, and Cigna, are expanding their coverage to new states, bringing in more plan options.
3. Active renewing is strongly recommended
There are two types of enrollments: active and passive. Under passive renewal, you don’t do anything to the policy during the OEP including change, update, or sign up for any new coverage. The benefits of your coverage in the previous year roll over to the following year, and you are notified.
Under active enrollment, you actively adjust, renew, or even decline the benefits every enrollment period. The law does not limit the employer to either active or passive renewing. It is up to the employee.
The number of people participating in passive enrollment has been declining, while the number of those participating in active environment has been rising. In 2011, a survey found that 71% of the respondents participate in passive enrollments, and the rest in active enrollments.
Currently, over 2019, 2020, and 2021 open enrollments, around 40% of enrollees participated in enrollment passively. Additionally, a 2019 survey by JP Griffin Group found that half of the respondents (50%) engaged in passive enrollment.
Passive enrollment is convenient for both the employer and the employee. The employer doesn’t have to deal with many administrative tasks. It is less stressful for employees to stick to the initial selections than to change them yearly. Nonetheless, it is strongly advised to participate in active enrollment.
Here are reasons why you should participate in active enrollment:
- Active renewal ensures your benefits better represent your present solution because you update any material changes yearly.
- It allows you to verify the integrity and accuracy of the information. For example, you can update any dependent and beneficiary changes.
- Benchmark plan changes could lead to an increase in monthly premiums for someone using passive renewal.
That said, you should stick to active renewal even if you have no reason to change anything on your coverage. It lets you see your current coverage and options to take advantage of any opportunities presented by changes in rules and laws.
4. Net premiums reduce due to an increase in subsidies
The objective of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is to expand the number of subsidies and eligibility to allow more people to qualify and afford to enroll in marketplace health plans. The expansion in marketplace subsidies is one of the biggest forces behind the reduction in net premiums.
Before 2022, everyone had to pay part of the premium no matter their income. People with an income at 100% federal poverty level (FPL) contributed 2.07% of their household income while those with an income at 150% FPL contributed 4.14% of their household income towards premiums.
The 2022 federal poverty level (FPL) is $13,590 for a single person and increases to $46,630 for a family of 8. For any additional family member above 8, $4,720 is added for each person.
Now that ARPA was signed, people making up to 150% FPL don’t contribute anything towards premiums because the government fully subsidizes them. It’s zero-premium coverage.
The changes also favor people who make over 400% FPLas they only contribute 8.5% of their household income at most. Before the American Rescue Plan, they weren’t eligible for any subsidies, and some had to look for coverage outside the marketplace.
The ARPA results in significant savings. For example, an individual with a 500% FPL pay will be charged $1,064 per month as premiums if they don’t have ARPA. If they do, they will pay half the amount—only $561 per month.
5. Low income earners will have more time to enroll
If you miss the OEP, you can enroll any other time of the year. There are three ways to enroll outside the OEP. The first is through CHIP or Medicaid because they don’t have an open enrollment window, but only if you qualify.
If you don’t, the only way you can enroll is if your life has been changed by a qualifying event, like getting married or having a baby. These events allow you to renew or enroll any time during the year. Here is a complete list of the qualifying events.
Your level of income alone could also qualify you to enroll throughout the year. If your household income is at or below 150% FPL, you can sign up any time during the year. To sign up after the OEP, you need to prove your income is at or below the 150% FPL. Once verified, you can apply at any time throughout the year.
This added opportunity to enroll makes it easier for low-income individuals to sign up for zero-premium plans with low or no cost-sharing at any time of the year. At the end of 2020 enrollment, about a third of people reported an income at or below the 150% FPL.
After the 2021 enrollment, 45% of people reported an income at or below 150% national poverty level. This shows how much this extended enrollment period based on income could benefit millions of people.
Get the Best Coverage for Your Unique Needs
The Affordable Care Act market will continue to evolve as the years go by, so you should always expect changes. That is why it is crucial to participate in active renewals so you can have your finger on the pulse to notice any changes and take advantage of them to save money and get the best benefits for you and your family.
If you would like to learn more about open enrollment 2022, the changes and what they mean for you, contact a MyHst Agent. The sooner you contact us, the earlier you will learn about the best coverage for your unique needs and how the changes affect them, and the faster you will take advantage of them.
Healthcare Solutions Team is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National General Insurance Group and Allstate Insurance Company.