Health care needs can change each year.
Set your health care agenda and then research your options.
If you don’t have health insurance through a job, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or another source that provides qualifying coverage, the Marketplace (sometimes known as the health insurance “exchange” or “Obamacare exchange”) can help you get covered. For the 2016 Health Insurance Marketplace, open enrollment period is November 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016.
Important dates for 2016 enrollment:
• November 1, 2015: Start of Open Enrollment through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2016.
• December 15, 2015: Last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage starting January 1, 2016.
• January 1, 2016: 2016 coverage starts for those enrolled in or having changed plans by December 15, 2015.
• January 15, 2016: Last day to enroll in or change plans for new coverage starting February 1, 2016.
• January 31, 2016: 2016 Open Enrollment ends.
Enrollments or changes between January 16 and January 31 take effect March 1, 2016. If you don’t enroll in a 2016 health insurance plan by January 31, 2016, you can’t enroll in a health insurance plan for 2016 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. For Medicaid & CHIP: apply any time – there’s no limited enrollment period for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
October 15, 2015 was the start of Medicare’s Open Enrollment, which extends through December 7, 2015. There are various components of Medicare Plans that must be re-evaluated and considered each year as your circumstances may have changed.
It’s always a good idea to shop around for a health plan. Evaluate the type of health coverage you want, research companies and what benefits they’re offering, and carefully review your options before making a final choice. With the internet, there’s a wealth of information online to help you shop around.
Cost is an important factor in any purchase, especially when it comes to health care. You want to get the best value possible from your health care coverage, but still need to make smart choices to get good value that meets your own health care needs. There may be dozens of Medicare plans in your area, all with different costs and levels of coverage. How much are each plan’s premiums and deductibles? How much will you pay for the benefits and services you’re likely to use? Is there a limit on what you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the year? If you’re currently in a plan, how does that plan stack up to the other plans that are available?
Prescription drug coverage is another part of the cost puzzle. How much will your prescriptions cost under each plan? Does the plan cover the drugs you take? Remember, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, everyone who reaches the Part D coverage gap (or “donut hole”) will benefit from a discount of 55% on covered brand-name drugs.
Only you can determine what mix of benefits and costs will work best with your needs and budget. Shopping around can make a huge difference. The Medicare Plan Finder is available online through the official Medicare blog. It allows consumers to compare plans so they can pick one that meets their needs and even call the plan administrators to get more details about their benefits and services, or check out their websites. Whether groceries, health insurance, or anything else, you want value for your dollar. Make sure you have the most up-to-date information that’s available.