Lauren Vagelakos: Health care deadline approaching

Special to The Gainesville Sun

Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace has been underway since Nov. 15. During open enrollment, consumers are able to log on to Healthcare.gov and view plans available to them, as well as enroll in coverage.

The window to apply for 2015 coverage is quickly closing. Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace runs until Feb. 15. However, if consumers want a health plan beginning on Feb. 1, the deadline to enroll is Thursday.

Even if you have coverage, you are still able to shop for plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace until the end of open enrollment on Feb. 15. You are also able to continue to update your Healthcare.gov application to be assessed for your 2015 financial assistance level. If you have a change in income or you believe that your income will be different than the amount you initially reported to the Marketplace this year, it may affect your eligibility for subsidies to help pay for coverage.

When you have a life change, it is important that you report it to the marketplace on Healthcare.gov immediately to ensure you are receiving the appropriate cost savings that you are eligible for.

If you had a marketplace plan and were automatically re-enrolled on Dec. 15 of last year, you can still switch to a different plan if you want 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 were automatically re-enrolled on Dec. 15 with your coverage beginning on Jan. 1 and you had a large medical procedure this month, the money spent towards your out-of-pocket maximum will reset if you decide to switch plans after the medical procedure.

It is also important to remember that the time to apply for coverage is quickly running out, so it is critical that you make a decision about your coverage as soon as possible to ensure you have a health insurance plan by the time open enrollment ends on Feb. 15.

If you have questions about the marketplace, 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, which provides free enrollment assistance to 15 counties in North Central Florida.

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