Understanding Open Enrollment Amid Covid-19
If you’ve recently become unemployed or uncovered for insurance, it’s worth noting that open enrollment for ACA-compliant health insurance coverage for 2021 is coming up right around the corner. The enrollment is starting November 1, and it will run through December 15, 2020. Some people may qualify for enrollment even earlier, depending on their situation. Given the state of the world under threat of Covid-19, it’s important for you to check to make sure that you explore all possibilities for coverage. Here’s some information on how you can do that.
The Dates to Look for
In cases where your insurance comes through your employer and your renewal is up or you are getting coverage for the first time, you need to pay attention to your HR department since they will likely you send you the information you need sometime around fall 2020.
The process will begin starting in October and going as late as December for the 2021 period. You have to enroll during this period to get coverage for Affordable Care Act plans. In general, for anyone seeking ACA plans, you have to hit that deadline of December 15.
If you don’t meet this window, then you must have a “qualifying life event” to sign up outside of the open enrollment window.
Life Qualifying Events
- Becoming a U.S. Citizen-When you successfully become a U.S. Citizen, you can apply for coverage regardless of what time of year it is. This can help those who have lost employment as well.
- Losing Coverage-If you’ve lost coverage because you aged past 26 or whatever other requirements, you can apply whenever. The same applies if you’ve lost coverage due to a change in eligibility for Medicare or because you lost your job.
- Death, Divorce, or Other Household Changes-In cases where something in your house changes, like a new adoption, a birth, a death, or a new marriage or divorce, this is also a qualifying event.
There can be other qualifying events as well, such as if you move outside of the area of coverage for your current insurance, if you leave prison and some others.
Your Insurance Options Could Have Changed
Another good reason to double-check your coverage for ACA plans is that there are changes between 2020 and 2021 to ACA insurance plans. For example, previously there were 10 health benefits that insurers for the whole country had to offer. Starting in 2021, there are as many as 50 that can vary by state.
This means more flexible plans. In other words, you may have more flexibility this year than you have had in the past when it comes to coverages and other choices you may be able to make.
It’s also worth noting that while the ACA has not been canceled, the “Individual Mandate” part no longer applies. This means that you won’t suffer any tax penalties on the federal level for not having it, though, given the importance of health insurance during a pandemic, it’s certainly something that many experts would highly recommend that you do anyway. This is especially the case since the ACA is often considerably cheaper than other options.
For example, according to some sources, even going to the ER a single time could cost you the same amount as what you would pay in terms of ACA-compliant premium plans over the course of an entire year. These days, COVID has many people going to the emergency room when they get sick enough from the illness, and worrying about paying that much money on top of worrying about being sick at the same time is inadvisable for your stress.
Beyond that, deductibles could be changing year to year going either up or down, or you may have different medical needs than you have had in the past. That’s why it’s more than worth reviewing everything.
The Importance of Being Prepared in the COVID Years
As of the end of July 2020, there have been over 4.3 million cases just in the United States of people with Covid-19. Deaths are just under 150 thousand. In fact, the United States is number 1 in these statistics by a wide margin.
The Worst Could Be Yet to Come
In fact, some experts are even saying that things are going to get even worse in the coming months as the season turns to fall and many states get much colder. Given how bad the situation is now, it isn’t an especially great idea to be without coverage as the open signup window closes its end towards the end of the year when things get even colder than ever and COVID may be nearing the peak of its deadliness.
Once it gets truly cold around December and beyond, everyone will be staying inside even more than they do now, which means that COVID will have even more ability to transfer from one person to another. Some are saying that a disaster could be coming that “dwarfs the situation today.”
As a result, there’s every chance that people who are otherwise healthy could come down with the virus at any time from now to the end of the year and throughout much of the year in 2021.
It’s critically important to make sure that your prepared for such an eventuality, for the sake of both yourself and your family.
Right now, it is an exceptionally bad time to be without coverage. Plus, if you’ve recently been laid off or lost insurance for you and your family, you could have a life qualifying event, and you could even seek an ACA plan well before the fall enrollment opens. This way, you would be ahead of the game.
Thinking about insurance after a COVID-related event happens to your family is just about the worst time to have to deal with it.
Preparation in Changing Times
The last few months have seen extreme changes quickly. Starting before March, there was a lot of speculation about how much the COVID disaster would even affect the United States. Many were skeptical that there would be a problem at all.
From there, you had the big spikes in April until May where everyone then thought about slowly opening the country again. Throughout the crisis, there was a lot of debate and a lot of back and forth about the nature of the virus, how long it would be a problem, and what should be done about it.
Almost overnight, the masks and social distancing rules popped up. Stores decreased their hours, increased their cleaning routines, and so on. This just goes to show how quickly the changing situation of the pandemic can be translated into having a direct effect on the world at large.
And now that many states have reopened or are in the process of reopening in July, suddenly there are spikes again, coming back after the pandemic abated a bit in May and June. For example, Atlanta, as of late July, has been going back closer to phase 1 again, where many stores are reclosing.
The fact is, that since no one can perfectly predict how bad the virus is going to get at different times, it makes a whole lot more sense to be prepared for it with proper coverage, rather than just trying to predict the unpredictable and just hope against hope that the worst doesn’t happen. Because, for many people, the worst is happening, and they never thought that it would happen to them either.
However, you can make a different choice and instead be well-prepared for what may come. For this though, you will need help.
How Healthcare Solutions Team Agents Can Help
Navigating the intricacies of ACA-compliant health insurance can be difficult for just about anyone, nevermind those going through COVID-related or other kinds of tragedies.
This is where the Healthcare Solutions Team comes in.
If you contact us, we can get started right away on helping you to make every decision you need to make regarding the options available in 2021 for your state. This could include looking at Guaranteed Issue plans, for example.
You can discuss Fixed Benefit, Short Term, and whatever other options you want with us and we will help you in deciding what might be the best for you based on the specifics of you, your family, and your situation.
Everyone has a different situation based on their employment, age, health, family, and potentially many other factors.
HST has been in service for 10 years, has over 260,000 satisfied clients, and just short of 500 plans. Our agents number between 1750+ to 2500+ respectively.
We’re excited to talk to you about what is possible for securing you and your family’s future in terms of surviving in the time of COVID-19.
That’s why it’s important that you go ahead and contact us today as fast as you are able. Events move extremely quickly during the pandemic, and the longer you wait, the more your situation might change in terms of health and employment.
Healthcare Solutions Team