Open Enrollment Begins on October 1st
All the talk. All the planning. All the preparation. Everyone must have healthcare coverage in 2014 and open enrollment and our Cover Oregon Exchange Marketplace begins in just a few short days.
What is Open Enrollment and what does it mean to me?
Since the law passed in 2010, there have been many changes to our healthcare system that are rolling out gradually. The next big step is that everyone must have healthcare in 2014. You may have healthcare through your employer or on your own individual / family plan. Because this is the first year, Open Enrollment will run from October 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. If you do not sign up during the open enrollment period, you will be unable to enroll and have to pay a penalty of $95 per person or 1% of your income whichever is greater.
Side note: If you are currently on an individual plan, your carrier will send you a notice as to whether they are mapping you to one of the new plans or if you need to choose a new plan / carrier. The only way to get a tax credit or subsidy is through the Cover Oregon Exchange Marketplace.
If you do not have coverage, you may be one of the 500,000+ uninsured residents that are eligible for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act. During the first month or so, the only way to purchase through Cover Oregon is with a health insurance consultant or partner (at no cost to you). This process was put into place to assist the early enrollees, to test the system and ensure that individuals have a positive experience while shopping in the Exchange.
Cover Oregon will be similar to many online shopping sites where you will have the opportunity to view side by side comparisons of the carriers, plans, costs and benefits. There will be familiar carriers as well as new CO-OPs you may not be familiar with. Metal Tiers of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum cover the same benefits but will have different copays, deductibles and coinsurance.
The plan costs are not related to your health, but simply your age, zip code and whether or not you are a tobacco user. Young folks may see an increase and older demographic may see a slight decrease. You determine the out of pocket and level of benefits that best suits your health needs and the costs vary based on level of benefit. Some bronze plans may be higher than a silver plan if the level of benefits is more comprehensive.
If you received a letter in the mail from your current carrier and you received an increase, don’t get alarmed yet. You may be eligible for one of the many tax credits or subsidies available based on income levels.