Open Enrollment for Health Insurance Begins; Here’s What Californians Should Know
Source: Orange County Register
Open enrollment is the specific time period each year when individuals can purchase health insurance for the upcoming year. And this year, it starts Monday, Oct. 15 and ends Jan. 15.
During this period, you could buy health insurance without what is known as a “qualifying life event” such as job change, death of a spouse, having a baby, getting married or moving to another state.
Linda Greenfeld, executive director of commercial products, at L.A. Care, talked to the Southern California News Group about some of the most common questions and concerns people have during this time.
Q: Why is the open enrollment period important?
A: This is the time for people to either opt to get health insurance or review the plan they have and make whatever changes they wish to make. This year, people need to be aware that Covered California is changing the terminology from “open enrollment” to “sign-on period” because it’s simpler and easier to understand.
This year, the enrollment period has also been cut short by two weeks. So, the deadline is Jan. 15.
Q: Are we looking at rate increases again this year?
A: Yes. Rates are going to increase this year and the average increase is going to be about 8.7 percent in California.
The primary reason for this rate hike is the individual mandate being removed. (President Donald Trump’s tax bill, which was approved by Congress, removed the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act where individuals would be penalized when they file their federal tax return if they fail to purchase health insurance).
Q: Do healthy people need to buy health insurance?
A: We recommend that everyone buys health insurance — even young people who think they are invincible. You do that because you want to be covered for the things you don’t expect. Life happens. You could be looking at astronomical medical bills if you have to spend a couple of days at the hospital and are not covered.
A gall bladder surgery, for example, could end up costing more than $150,000.
Q: How do you pick the health plan that’s right for you and your family?
A: Shop-and-compare tools are available through Covered California’s website. You could enter your individual demographic information including income levels and get a display of what plans are available and the federal subsidies for which you will be eligible.
Q: Can people opt for short-term plans?
A: No. These are now banned in California. In my opinion, these plans were not good anyway because they didn’t even cover essential benefits such as routine physical exams.
Q: Do I need to do anything if I’m happy with my current plan?
A: Covered California has a passive enrollment period as well. You only need to sign on if your financial status or household income has changed. If not, you don’t need to do anything.
For more information, visit coveredca.com.
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