The Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – is designed to give more Americans access to health insurance at lower cost. Signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010, the ACA also expands Medicaid and supports new methods of delivering medical care, such as ACA Health Homes.
As of August 2, more than 35 million Americans were enrolled in the ACA health insurance market. But the registration period for full coverage from January 1, 2023 is ending soon.
Read on to find out if you qualify for coverage under the ACA, how to enroll and what the deadlines are.
For more healthcare advicefind out about best telehealth services and find out how you can save money on your medical bills if you don’t have insurance.
What is the deadline for signing up for a healthcare plan in the Affordable Care Act market?
Open registration began on November 1 and will continue until January 15. If you want full coverage from January 1, 2023, the deadline is December 15, 2022.
Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for special registration outside of these dates. Here’s how you could qualify:
You have experienced a life-changing event in the past 60 days: Events include losing health coverage, a change in household income, having a baby, getting married, divorced, moving to a new zip code, or if someone on your Marketplace plan has died.
Note that if you moved to a new postcode, you must provide proof that you had insurance for at least one day in the past 60 days, or you will lose coverage within the next 60 days. Also, if you lost your job and decide not to accept Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) coverage, you can still sign up for a Marketplace plan.
You are applying for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): If you apply for one of these programs, you can apply for health insurance through the Marketplace at any time.
Other life circumstances that may qualify you:
- you get out of jail
- You have just become a US citizen
- You begin or end your service in AmeriCorps
- You became a member of a federally recognized tribe or have shareholder status in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation
To see if you qualify for special registration, follow the steps above at healthcare.gov/screener/. If you are eligible, your health care plan would start on the first of the month following your enrollment. For example, if you enroll in August, your coverage will begin September 1.
What health insurance plans are available under the Affordable Care Act?
Assuming you qualify for the Affordable Care Act (see below), the state you live in determines which health care providers you can use. For each plan, you should see Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum options. Here’s a breakdown of how each plan works.
Bronze: You will pay the lowest monthly premium, but you will pay more for care. The Bronze plan’s deductible is usually much higher than other options, so you’ll pay more out of pocket until your deductible is reached.
Silver: This intermediate coverage comes with a moderate monthly premium. It will cost you more than the Bronze option, but your medical treatment costs will be lower than if you opted for the Bronze plan.
Gold: This plan includes a high monthly premium and low costs when you need health care. A low deductible means that the amount of medical costs you pay out of pocket will be much lower than the Bronze and Silver plans.
Platinum: The most expensive monthly premium gives you the lowest costs for medical care. Because the deductible is very low, your plan will start paying your medical bills sooner than any of the other options.
The choice of plan depends on your lifestyle, how often you will need healthcare, and the type of medical treatment you need. For example, if you are in good health and think you only need to use your insurance in an emergency, you can opt for the Bronze or Silver plan. If you are currently undergoing treatment or expect to need regular medical care, the Gold and Platinum options might be the best options for you.
If you are under 30 or have an exemption based on inability to pay for health insurance, you may qualify for a catastrophic plan, which has a very low monthly premium and a very high deductible.
Note: Bonuses are based on income levels, so if you earn less your bonus may be lower.
How do I know if I qualify for an Affordable Care Act plan?
Before you start thinking about the plan you are going to choose, you must first know if you really qualify for a plan through the health insurance market. Go to healthcare.gov/screener and enter your zip code.
You will then need to answer a few questions to determine if you qualify for discounted or full price coverage. Once you get a response, your next step is to fill out an application with the health insurance marketplace or your state’s marketplace to see plans and pricing.
Continue reading: Tips for saving money when you don’t have health insurance
How to enroll in Obamacare
Once you’re ready to register — whether between Nov. 1 and Jan. 15 or through special registration — you’ll need to create an account at HealthCare.gov or through your state’s provider. You will then need to complete the application to see the plans and prices and select the option that suits you best.
Things you might need when applying:
- Social security numbers for everyone on your app
- Employer and income information for all members of your household
- Current health insurance policy numbers (if applicable)
- Health insurance information available from your employer
- Immigration documents
Again, after you sign up, your plan should start on the first of the month following your signup date, assuming you’ve paid your first month’s premium.
Keep an eye on your Medicare card in the mail after you sign up, along with any other information about the health plan you’ve chosen.
For more information on health care, find out if your insurance covers online therapy and how to check your heart health without equipment.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.
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