Do you have a health insurance plan in place for 2017? If not, now is the time. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance is required for everyone. Open Enrollment for the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace is now underway.
Deadlines are as follow:
- Open Enrollment begins November 1, 2016 and continues through January 31, 2017
- Enroll before December 15, 2016 for coverage to begin on January 1, 2017
- Enroll between December 16, 2016 and January 15, 2017 for coverage to begin on February 1, 2017
- Enroll between January 15, 2017 and January 31, 2017 for coverage beginning on March 1, 2017
If you don’t enroll in a 2017 health insurance plan by January 31, 2017, you can’t enroll in a health insurance plan for 2017 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is online at www.healthcare.gov. You can review the “Plans and Prices” tab, where you can browse the prices and tax credits. Tax credits help make expensive insurance affordable– to see if you qualify go to https://www.healthcare.gov/lower-costs/save-on-monthly-premiums/.
The enrollment process is easy, but before you begin, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the health insurance enrollment process.
What is open enrollment?
Open enrollment is the time period in which people can shop then purchase or renew health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. The 2017 open enrollment period begins November 1, 2016 and ends December 15, 2016 for coverage to begin on January 1, 2017.
Do I have to enroll?
You only have to enroll if you do not have a current health insurance plan that meets the new government standards. Those who have Medicare, Medicaid, employee-sponsored insurance, or their own individual plan, do not have to enroll.
If you have a job, it is especially important to check with your employer to see if they are offering coverage for you under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
If you do not have a current health insurance plan in place, or you do not have one offered by an employer, then you must get coverage either on your own or by enrolling in the Marketplace by December 15, 2016.
What do I do during open enrollment?
Go to www.healthcare.gov to fill out an online application. You will find out if you qualify for a tax credit to be applied to the purchase of a plan. You can compare prices, check out the benefits of different plans and buy the plan that is right for you and your family.
What do I need with me for open enrollment?
- An estimate of your household’s income for 2017. Specifically, an estimate of your Adjusted Gross Income – Line 37 from the IRS 1040 form.
- Past tax returns and pay stubs are a useful tool for estimating your 2017 income. You may also want to consult with your tax preparer or accountant to help with your estimate.
- A working email address that you can access during enrollment. If you do not use email, enrollment is still possible, but you need to work with an assister. See below for assistance.
- Social Security Numbers and birth dates for everyone in your household. You can also enroll if you are a legal immigrant by entering your document numbers.
What happens if I don’t have insurance, and I don’t enroll by January 31?
- You may have to pay a penalty fee when you file your 2017 taxes next year, but only if affordable insurance was available to you and you chose not to enroll. Otherwise, you may apply for an exemption from the fee.
What if I need help with the enrollment process?
Gallatin City-County Health Department, Community Health Partners, BridgerCare and the Bozeman Public Library are teaming up to hold a series of enrollment assistance sessions for the public. At each session, Navigators and Certified Application Counselors will be available to answer questions and walk community members through the enrollment process, helping them understand their insurance options and sign up for a plan that meets their needs.
For assistance contact Liz Aghbashian
Community Health Partners also offers personal consultations with a Certified Application Counselor. Walk-ins are welcome on an as available basis. To set up an appointment, contact Sloane Realbird at (406) 922-0833 or (406) 585-8701.
For more information, go to www.Covermt.org.