Families will soon have the opportunity to enroll in health care plans, renew their plan, or change to a new plan in the Marketplace. Open enrollment is from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. Please note that families can enroll anytime if there have been “life changes” (e.g. lost employment and insurance) or if they are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
There are 4 ways for families to apply. Families can enroll online, by phone, with a paper application, or with in-person help in your community.
If they enrolled in a plan through the federal Marketplace last year, families will get a notice from their insurance company that will explain if they will automatically be enrolled in the same or similar plan, or if they need to pick a new plan. The notice from the Marketplace will let them know if they are automatically going to get a subsidy again.
It is important for families to know that they may change their plan, even if they are automatically enrolled. The steps are the same whether auto-enrolled or not: Steps to pick a new plan are:
Families should examine their new plan even if they are automatically enrolled in the same plan, since the plan may have changed in important ways – in premiums, provider networks, deductibles, copayments, and/or benefits.
Families should also go onto the Marketplace website to see what their subsidy level will be, even if one is automatically provided, because there are some cases where subsidies may change even if family income and their plan’s premiums have not changed.
And it is important for families to report any changes in income, family size, or other circumstances, since such changes may change the subsidies, if any, to which they are entitled. (If a family receives a subsidy to which they are not entitled, they will owe money to the government at the end of the year.)
It’s also important for families to remember that their children may be eligible or Medicaid or their State Children’s Health Insurance Program even if the parents are not.
Families may now have access to plans for the first time, want to renew the plan they had last year, or even change to a new plan.
Lauren Agoratus is the parent of a child with multiple disabilities who serves as the NJ Coordinator for Family Voices. She also serves as the southern coordinator in her state’s Family-to-Family Health Information Center.