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Open Enrollment for the Healthcare Marketplace Ends Soon: How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan

Katie Doyle  |  December 11, 2018

The 2019 Open Enrollment Period for the Health Marketplace ends Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018 in most states. If you don't act now, you can't get 2019 coverage unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Plans sold during Open Enrollment start Jan. 1, 2019.

Did someone say “open enrollment”? If you’re shopping in the Health Marketplace, you need to act fast. It ends this weekend in most states. (See the full list of deadlines here.) We know HerMoney goal-getters are on top of everything, including health care plan changes, but this year enrollment is down, so consider this your reminder.

Let’s walk through the basics of what you can expect during open enrollment and what kind of health plan will best serve your needs. 

What Is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment for the Health Marketplace requires you to enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2019.

On the other hand, open enrollment for an employer can be any time of year (it’s usually around when your company’s contract renews), and it lasts around a month, but many of them start Nov. 1. This is the time of year when you can make changes to your health insurance plan without needing a qualifying event. What’s that, you say? A qualifying event is insurance company lingo for a big life change that allows you to make changes to your plan between open enrollment periods — think the birth of a baby, an adoption, a wedding or a divorce.

No matter your reason for making a change, there are several steps to take before signing up for another year.

Looking at the Marketplace? A Couple Quick Facts

  • Make sure you’re eligible. You’ll need to live in the U.S., be a citizen or national and fall under a couple of other rules.
  • There are are two kinds of coverage, depending on your level of income. See how much you can save.
  • Plans in the Marketplace cover essential benefits, pre-existing conditions and preventive services.
  • You can check costs before logging in, as any goal-getter would.

Look at Last Year’s Health Care Expenses

Take a look at what you spent on health care last year. Aside from one-time major medical expenses, your costs this year will likely be similar. Use this information to get an idea of what kinds of services you used and how much you spent on them, then pick the plan that is going to cover those services and be the most cost effective.

Make Sure Your Doctors Are Still In-Network

This is a big one for us. If you have a doctor you love, make sure they’re still in-network for this year. Every once in a while providers will make a change in plan affiliation, and you don’t want to find out when you show up to the office for a visit. The same is true for prescription drugs and other services you use regularly — be sure they are still covered by your plan. If not, put those shopping skills to work — find a health insurance option that works for your needs!

Consider High-Deductible Plans and HSAs

High-deductible health insurance plans offer *shocker* higher deductibles in exchange for lower premiums each month. And they’re becoming the only option for more and more employees. When paired with HSAs — health savings accounts — you get a twofer: HSAs allow you to stash away savings that you can use to fund the cost of health care. And fun fact, HSAs have a trifecta of tax benefits: Contributions are deducted pretax from your paychecks, gains on the money are tax-free AND withdrawals from account are tax-free, assuming you’re using the money for eligible reasons.

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