by Stephen Weru )

The open enrollment period for health insurance coverage starting January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021 is here. Now is the time to make sure that you and your loved ones have access to affordable and quality health care packages for the next year.

However, before making any decisions, there are things you need to know. This article takes an in-depth look at all you need to know before the open enrollment period for 2021.

Let’s get right into it.

What is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is an annual window of time when Americans get the chance to make changes to their health insurance plans. If you’ve been thinking of changing your current plan or enrolling in a new insurance plan, the open enrollment period is the time to do this.

If you don’t make changes to your insurance plan during this period, you’ll have to wait until the 2022 open enrollment period.

However, under special circumstances, you can change your current insurance plan even after the open enrollment period. Examples of events that may warrant you to change your plan include:

  • Death of a spouse or dependent

  • Loss of employment-based insurance

  • Birth or adoption of a child

  • Marriage or divorce.

Open Enrollment Periods for 2021

Typically open enrollment for the individual health insurance market lasts for six weeks. In most states, open enrollment starts on November 1 and ends on December 15. This year won’t be any different. In most states, open enrollment for coverage beginning on January 1, 2021 will run for the allotted six weeks.

However, if you live in one of the 13 states with fully state-run insurance exchanges, you’ll have an extended open enrollment period.  In New York, you’ll have until January 31, 2021, to sign up for a new plan or make any changes to your current plan.

What You Need to Know Before Open Enrollment

Before the enrollment period ends, one thing to look out for is any communication from your insurer or exchange. It’s predicted that the proposed rates for 2021 will experience a modest increase.

Based on this prediction, it’s crucial you understand how your premiums will change. If you receive a premium subsidy, be sure to check how your premium prices will change post-subsidy.

Another thing to pay attention to before enrollment is the benefits expected for your chosen plan. Your insurer may terminate a particular plan or introduce new changes at the end of the coverage period. So, before making any changes, make sure you understand the coverage details in the renewal information.

Due to the reduction in Navigator funding over the last few years, the number of enrollment assistants is likely to go down. If you think you need help deciding on the best policy, make sure you book an appointment with a Navigator or Broker.

What If I Use Employer-Based Health Insurance?

If you use an employer-based group health insurance, the above provisions don’t apply to you. This is because most employer-funded plans have enrollment periods at different times of the year.

In certain circumstances, your employer-sponsored health insurance open enrollment period may run concurrently with the individual health insurance enrollment period. However, unlike the individual market’s open enrollment period, your employer’s plan may have a shorter enrollment period.

Make sure to look out for communication of key dates from your HR manager. If you have any questions regarding changes you may need to make in your plan, you should ask HR before making any decisions.

Our Advice Regarding Open Enrollment for 2021

The open enrollment period is often confusing for most people. Besides having to sift through different health care packages, you also have to determine how much coverage you and your loved ones need and how much health care coverage will cost you in the coming year.

However, we hope that this article will help guide you to make the best choice.

If you have any questions regarding the 2021 open enrollment period, please ask them in the comments section. We’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.

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