Open enrollment 2015 is just a few weeks away. The time is coming for employees and clients to sign up for individual health insurance through the health insurance Marketplaces. This year, many Americans will be purchasing health insurance for the first time or switching their coverage from last year. Here is a quick checklist to share with employees and clients on efficiently signing up for individual coverage through the health insurance Marketplaces.
Step 1: Gather Your Paperwork
When you apply for or renew your individual health insurance policy during open enrollment, you’ll need to provide information about your household, income, and insurance coverage. Individual health insurance applications no longer ask medical history questions, but the application will ask financial questions to qualify you for the premium tax credits. So for many people, filling out an individual application will feel like filing income taxes.
Gathering the necessary materials for open enrollment will make applying for coverage quicker and easier when the time comes:Home and/or mailing addresses for everyone in your household who is applying for coverage.
Social Security Numbers for individuals in your household.
Documentation verifying legal immigration status, if this applies to your household.
Employer and income information for every member of your household. This may come in the form of pay stubs or W-2 forms.
Your best estimate of your household income for 2015.
Policy numbers for any current health insurance plans covering household members.
A completed “Employer Coverage Tool” for every employer-sponsored health insurance plan you or your household members are eligible for. The form should be filled out for every employer-sponsored health insurance plan you are eligible for-- not just the ones you are enrolled in.
If you have health coverage in 2014, notices from your current plan that include your plan ID.
It may also be helpful to have the notice you received from your employer about the Marketplaces and new coverage options.
Step 2: Fill Out An Application
You can complete an application online or paper form. You will only have to fill out one application, and from there your eligibility for premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsides will be determined. This year, to help make open enrollment 2015 go as smoothly as possible, Healthcare.gov has been working on their online enrollment process.
While all applicants will be required to answer some screening questions, about 70 percent of applicants are expected to be re-directed to a shorter, updated application. The remaining 30 percent with “more complicated household scenarios” will use the traditional Marketplace application.
Step 3: Pick a Plan
Once you fill out an application, you can browse and pick a plan. With some people comparing more than 100 plans, this is often the step that takes the most time, and where working with a health insurance broker can be very helpful. Plans are categorized by "metallic tiers" to help compare plans with similar coverage levels.
Step 4: Pay the Premium
Many of the health insurance Marketplaces are currently referring consumers to the insurance companies for payment, since each issuer can set their own deadline and payment requirement. Some people will get bills in the mail and others are able to pay their premiums over the phone or on the insurer’s website.