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Open Enrollment for Individual Coverage Near an End

Today’s video discusses the reopening of the federal and state-based Marketplaces under the American Rescue Plan. Please watch the video here.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 reopened the federal and state-based Marketplaces to individual health insurance enrollment. It also provided additional funding for increased tax credits to those who qualify for the remainder of the year. Those who received unemployment benefits this year might even qualify for a zero-premium plan for the remainder of the year. Many off-exchange insurers also opened enrollment during this period of February 15, 2021 to August 15, 2021.

Some who took advantage of this open enrollment period early on changed their plans and benefitted from that opportunity. We would like to caution those considering a change in insurance plans this late in the year because one almost always has to start a new deductible when changing plans. However, we would like to address the three groups we would urge to act now and certainly before open enrollment ends on August 15th. (Please note that New York will maintain open enrollment throughout the year).

The Uninsured
If you remain uninsured, please act now. Being uninsured is a very great financial risk for anyone in the United States. Even those in good health can’t know when they will face serious illness or injury. Hospitals are required to provide emergency services to all but are not obligated to provide ongoing services to those who have no ability to pay for them. Remaining uninsured is a risky gamble so please go on-line to healthcare.gov (the federal site) or to your state-based exchange and determine your options. You can also call these organizations if that is your preference.

Those with Short-term Health Plans
Having a short-term health plan is better than being uninsured, of course, but short-term health plans have restrictions. Historically there is a high level of denied and often disputed claims with short-term health plans. This checkered history is one factor in why some states didn’t allow the sale of them prior to the Affordable Care Act and why the Affordable Care Act originally banned their existence. Short-term health plans are back in many states and they certainly are a valuable safety net for those who may not qualify for a tax credit and can’t afford an Affordable Care Act compliant plan. However, even if you reviewed your options before, we urge those on short-term health plans to review their options again because subsidies have increased for the remainder of 2021. Please reconsider having more comprehensive protection.

Christian Healthcare Plans
Christian Healthcare Plans are poorly named. They aren’t actual health plans but cooperatives. The Affordable Care Act allowed them to exist but because they are not insurance products, they are not regulated by Insurance Departments and are not obligated to maintain reserves to pay claims like an actual insurer would. Christian Health Plans can be one or two or a handful of significant claims away from financial ruin. We recommend anyone on a Christian Health Plan consider an Affordable Care Act compliant plan now.
Dealing with health insurance options can be tedious and stressful but if you are in one of the three groups described above, please act now. Thank you.