Open enrollment is when you can enroll in or out of your health, vision and dental insurance coverage for the next year. It can be difficult for people to navigate the changing health care plans, evaluate the increasing cost of their health care coverage, and decide how much coverage they need.
As if that weren’t enough to cause mild anxiety, open enrollment will close at the end of the year. You won’t have any ability to change your coverage, unless you are eligible for a life-changing event, such as a marriage or an expansion of your family. Open enrollment will be your decision. We’ve listed the key health care changes over the past year, and the steps to take to ensure you have the right coverage.
What is the open enrollment deadline for 2021?
Open enrollment information will be provided by your HR team if you have private health insurance through your company. The open enrollment period is initiated by your company. It usually occurs between October and December. You can’t make changes to your insurance coverage after the open enrollment period closes unless you are eligible for a life-changing event.
What are the qualifying life events?
Qualifying life events can be classified as one of four types. Because they can occur at any time of the year, you can sign up for or modify your health insurance coverage during open enrollment.
Events that qualify as life-changing
- Loss of insurance:Loss of a job, qualification for Medicare/Medicaid services or the aging out your parents’ plan.
- Household changes:An adoption, birth, death, marriage, or divorce within the family.
- Changes in your residenceYou are moving to a different region than your current insurance covers.
- Additional qualifying eventsYou can become a U.S citizen by leaving incarceration, joining AmeriCorps, or leaving.
You might be able to get better health benefits
The Affordable Care Act required all insurers to provide 10 essential health benefits. To offer more flexible plans, the state can now choose from 50 different health benefits in 2021. You might have more options in 2021 but the coverage offered by every health insurance plan, even the one you selected last year, may differ. It is important to consider the coverage that your family needs and make the right choice.
Individual insurance for health is not mandatory
Although “Obamacare,” has not been repealed by Congress, individuals who choose to forgo health care coverage won’t be subject to a federal tax penalty. This was the case in 2018, however. It’s worth having insurance to save money. Many Americans aren’t insured and have been hurt. One visit to the emergency room can cost more than a whole year of premiums.
Despite the federal repeal of individual mandates, residents of California, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Vermont, or the District of Columbia are still subject to a state mandate.
Open enrollment for Medicare and Medicaid in 2021
You can apply anytime if you or your family member were not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is how you can find out if these federally funded insurance programs are for you:
Medicaid and CHIP coverage
Medicaid and CHIP were created to assist low-income people, families with children, pregnant mothers, the elderly, and people with disabilities. It doesn’t matter if your income doesn’t make you eligible for Medicaid, but it is worth applying. You may be eligible for assistance in different states. Go to http://www.healthcare.gov/medicaid/getting-medicaidchip/ title=”Do you qualify for Medicaid coverage?” To apply, go to HealthCare.gov
Medicare was created to guarantee that all Americans 65 and older have access to quality health care. However, people with disabilities might be eligible at a younger age. Medicare.gov allows you to view the complete list of plans and determine your eligibility.
What is the open enrollment period for Medicare?
Medicare has an annual open enrollment window, which is different from Medicaid. The Medicare open enrollment period ended Dec. 7, 2020. The coverage began on January 1, 2021.
Individuals who are eligible for Medicare Part A or B may make changes to their coverage, switch between Original Medicare and Medicare Benefit plans, and apply for Medicare Part C and D.
What insurance benefits should you review in the current year?
It’s not surprising that many companies have changed their employees’ insurance providers and plans due to rising healthcare costs. Even if you plan to enroll in the same benefit package, it is worth taking the time to review the benefits package. Your medical needs could change as well.
Choose the right plan for you
Did a family member get recently diagnosed with a medical condition that requires frequent doctor visits or medication? Did you make very few visits to the doctor over the last year? These factors will assist you in deciding what type of insurance policy is best for your family.
If you don’t anticipate any major or recurring medical costs in 2021 you might consider a high-deductible plan. You can also pair it with a HSA (health savings account) if your company offers it. While a high-deductible plan will cost you more to cover each visit, you might not need to go to the doctor as often as you do for your annual checkups or preventive visits. Your monthly premiums will also be lower than if you have a low-deductible plan.
A low-deductible plan is better if you are likely to be spending more on medical care. Low-deductible plans have higher monthly premiums that are taken out of each paycheck. However, coverage kicks in earlier, which can help families with high medical costs save money in the long term.
Do you need to open a savings account for your health?
Only those who are eligible for a high-deductible health plan can open HSAs. It’s worth looking into if you qualify. HSAs allow you to set aside pretax money for your medical expenses indefinitely. The HSAs lower your tax bill at year’s end. If you don’t need those funds for any medical reasons, they can be treated just like an individual retirement account (IRA).
For those who turn 55 in 2021, they can add $1,000 to their HSA. Both spouses can make the $1,000 catch up contribution if they are 55 or older. However, HSAs are filed under the same person so each spouse must open their own account to contribute the maximum $9,200. Anyone who can afford it should max out their HSA, as medical costs continue to rise.
Do you need a flexible spending account to make purchases?
Flexible spending accounts (FSAs), which are similar to HSAs, have one major difference. FSAs have an annual “use it or loose it” policy. FSAs may not be as appealing as HSAs but can still help you save money on taxes and prescriptions. Remember: Any amount that you don’t spend within the next year will be lost.
However, the qualified expenses list is surprising and includes items like contacts, glasses and sunscreen. So spending through the account shouldn’t be too difficult.
Many companies offer dependent care FSAs that give parents tax breaks and valuable child care benefits. Children under 13 years old can contribute up $5,000 to a dependent-care FSA to help pay for day care, after school programs, and summer camp. You can also use dependent care FSAs to pay for the care of a spouse or relative who is unable or unable to care for themselves. These costs are easy to predict so fully funding a dependent FSA is an easy decision for parents.
Are you in need of vision and dental insurance?
You should consider whether vision and dental insurance are included in your benefits package. For example, if you have good vision and your vision hasn’t changed significantly in the past year, you might be able to skip vision insurance for next year.
However, dental procedures can be costly, especially if you don’t take preventive care like regular cleanings. If you have the option to purchase dental insurance, it may be worth it. It could save you some costly visits to your dentist. You can choose from multiple plans, but you should follow the same logic as when you choose health insurance. If you are prone to high dental costs, opt for a low-deductible plan. The high-deductible option is best for you if your teeth are healthy.
Additional open enrollment benefits
Employers often offer other perks that are less valuable but still very useful, such as commuter benefits or transit passes, parking permits, and even parking permits. These benefits can reimburse you for your commute, or let you purchase your monthly commuter ticket with pretax dollars.
Do you need life insurance?
You may be able to get a small amount of life insurance free of cost from your employer. However, the amount they offer is usually not enough to cover all the life insurance you might need in the case of an emergency.
Experts recommend that you have term life insurance equal to five to ten times your annual salary. However, we recommend adding up your total debts to determine how much life insurance you need. Calculate how much life insurance coverage you actually need.
Compare the cost of private life insurance with your employer’s upgrade option. You may be able to get a lower price from your employer if you have a pre-existing condition. The group policy will provide coverage. If you are relatively healthy, you may find cheaper prices elsewhere.
After you have signed up for the financial safety net, don’t forget to update your beneficiary information. This is a great time to verify that your beneficiary information is correct, especially if you’ve been married or divorced or have had a baby or suffered a loss in the household.