Special to The Gainesville Sun
By Lauren Vagelakos
Open enrollment for the second year of the Health Insurance Marketplace began on Nov. 15 of this year. During open enrollment, consumers are able to log on to Healthcare.gov and view plans available to them, as well as enroll in coverage. Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace runs until Feb. 15.
However, if consumers want a health plan beginning on Jan. 1, the deadline to enroll is Dec. 15 of this year. If you currently have a marketplace plan, there are some important dates and considerations that you should be aware of.
If you have a marketplace plan and you take no action by Dec. 15 of this year, you will be automatically re-enrolled in the same plan you had last year. Since there is a chance that the details of your plan may have changed, it is a good idea to check your account online and make sure that the plan you currently have still contains all of the elements that are important to you and your family — such as your doctors, covered services and prescriptions.
If you want a different plan, this is your opportunity to shop for new coverage. Enroll in a new plan by Dec. 15 so that your coverage begins on Jan. 1.
If you do become automatically re-enrolled in your marketplace plan and decide later that you no longer want that plan, you can still switch to a different plan as long as it is during open enrollment. However, it is important to remember that every time you switch plans, all of the money you have spent towards your previous 2015 plan will reset. For example, if you are automatically re-enrolled on Dec. 15 with your coverage beginning on Jan. 1, and you had a large medical procedure in January, the money spent toward your out-of-pocket maximum will be lost if you decide to switch plans after the medical procedure.
It is also important to remember that the time period for open enrollment is much shorter this year, so making your decision about your coverage as soon as you can is critical in order to ensure that you have coverage by the closing of open enrollment on Feb. 15.
If you have questions about the marketplace or want to review your coverage options, change your health insurance plan or apply for coverage for the first time, the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators are here to help.
WellFlorida Council has multiple Navigators available to provide free, unbiased assistance to guide you through the enrollment process. The Health Insurance Marketplace Navigators can be reached by phone and at different enrollment events in North Central Florida.
To contact a Navigator for your area, visit http://ncfnavigators.org/.
Lauren Vagelakos, associate planner at WellFlorida Council, is the manager of the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator program. Navigators provide free enrollment assistance to 15 counties in North Central Florida.