GREENSBORO, N.C. — Don't have health insurance? Now's the time to act.
President Joe Biden required government health insurance markets to reopen enrollment periods in February. You now have until May 15 to enroll in a health care plan.
Today on 2 Wants to Know, Catherine Sevier of AARP NC, Morgan Campbell with Alliance Insurance Services and Laura Packard with Get America Covered answered your questions about open enrollment and Medicare.
Current open enrollment period:
Open enrollment opened on February 15. This current period is a special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act. Get America Covered said this enrollment period gives Americans who missed the December deadline the opportunity to sign up for affordable health insurance. The 2021 open enrollment period was from November 1 to December 15, 2020.
You can use the government website to find your own health insurance plan or you can call an independent insurance agent.
5 facts about signing up for coverage at HealthCare.gov from GetAmericaCovered.org:
#1: Sign up by May 15th The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the greatest health insurance losses in American history.
#2: Coverage could be cheaper than you think. Last year at HealthCare.gov, nine in ten people qualified for financial help to make their monthly premiums more affordable. 4.7 million uninsured people were eligible for a plan with a zero dollar monthly premium.
#3: Shop and save. If you had coverage through HealthCare.gov for 2020, you should update your information and compare your options for 2021. Every year, plans and prices change; you could save money by switching to a new plan that still meets your needs.
#4: Accidents happen and people get sick. One trip to the ER could cost more than monthly rent. Health insurance protects you from the unexpected.
#5: Free help is available. If you have questions about signing up or want to talk through your options with a trained professional, free help is just a quick call away. Call 1-800-318-2596, visit localhelp.healthcare.gov or make a one-on-one appointment now.
Want to compare Medicare plans? Try Medicare.gov
Enrollment for Medicare is time-sensitive. If you're eligible for Medicare when you turn 65, Medicare.gov said you have a 7-month Initial Enrollment Period to sign up for Part A and/or Part B. The period begins 3 months before the month you turn 65, it includes the month you turn 65, and ends three months after your birthday month.
If you miss that 7-month window, Scott Braddock of Scott Braddock Financial says you will suffer a 10% penalty every 12 months, and that penalty doesn't go away once you start. Braddock said you will pay a higher premium for the rest of your life.
According to the Marketplace website, you can preview 2021 plans and prices. Answer a few questions to see plans and estimated prices based on your income.
If you can't pay your premiums because of a COVID-19 financial hardship:
- Check with your insurance company about extending your premium payment deadline or ask if they will delay ending your coverage if you can’t pay your premiums.
- Most of the time, if you aren’t receiving financial assistance with your premiums, you have a grace period determined by state law (often one month). If you’re getting financial assistance, you have a three-month grace period during which your coverage can’t be terminated for not paying your premiums.
- If your household income has changed, update your application immediately. You could qualify for more savings than you're getting now.