The ACA Open Enrollment Period (OEP) starts tomorrow for Healthcare.gov and most of the state based marketplaces. Idaho allowed shopping earlier in October. During OEP you can switch plans for any reason. You can buy a plan for any reason.
Here are a few things to remember:
- Health insurance is complicated and complex so go get help
- Navigators are government funded helpers who can’t make a specific recommendation but can help reduce complexity
- Agents and brokers can make specific recommendations but they work on commission/premium while they are only required to give good advice not optimal advice.
- Take your time
- Open Enrollment goes through at least December 15th for all markets and through January 15 for Healthcare.gov
- Be ready to accept good enough instead of perfect.
- Look around and actively choose
Looking around and actively choosing is the most important advice I can give every year. The ACA’s use of price linked subsidies combined with the non-stickiness of the marginal enrollees means that every year insurers aggressively compete to offer very low premium plans. This means that a plan in Year 1 that is a great deal may be a really bad deal in Year 2 for an individual who is mostly buying on price. Sometimes this happens even if the same insurer offers the cheapest plan in both years. Looking around and making an active choice minimizes price surprises.
It is particularly important this year as over 1 million people will be automatically re-enrolled into different insurers because Bright (nationally) and Friday (Texas) withdrew from the markets very late as regulators were suspicious about their ability to sustain losses and pay claims. These folks will be automatically re-enrolled into new plans but the odds that these plans are the plans that they would want are fairly low.
Finally, if you have purchased an “off-exchange” plan for 2022 where you are not eligible for subsidies, unless you are an arbitration eligible second basemen who can actually hit a curveball with authority and a good bat angle, you are likely leaving potential cost-savings on the table. See if you can convert your off-exchange plan into an on-Exchange plan that is eligible for ACA premium subsidies.
Good luck and remember — ask for help. This is complicated and messy.