If you missed our 2023 Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment webinar a video replay is available below.
The holidays are going to look a lot different this year due to COVID-19.
Every year millions of Americans pile into each other’s homes to celebrate the season with food, family, and football. That urge has never been stronger than this year. With millions of people working from home and many states enacting safer-at-home measures, Americans are feeling the financial, physical, and mental health effects of living in a coronavirus-infected world.
But in addition to practicing social distancing, there are several things you can do to remain healthy while minimizing the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 (or any illness).
1) Consult local, state, and federal guidelines and restrictions before traveling.
According to the CDC, “travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.” And as COVID-19 cases continue to spike throughout the country, many experts are urging Americans to avoid holiday travel.
Many states are imposing new limitations on gathering sizes, extending mask mandates, and even issuing mandatory quarantine periods (or negative COVID-19 test) for people traveling from other states. If you or your loved ones are considering traveling internationally during the holidays, please be sure to make sure the country you are traveling to is granting entry to travelers from your point of origin.
2) Embrace video chat.
Technology can help us feel connected to our loved ones when we can’t be there in person—something that has proven to be essential for so many people this year.
Video calls have skyrocketed in popularity this year professionally and personally. Zoom did its part to bring people together safely by lifting their 40-minute limit on free meetings for Thanksgiving Day this year.
Consider using video chat services or avoiding in-person contact altogether through the holidays if you or a family member are at a high risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
3) Do your holiday shopping online.
You may want to consider skipping the check-out lines this year and put your health first by shopping for gifts online.
Traditional brick and mortar stores will still be dangerous areas despite heightened cleaning measures. The CDC has listed “Going shopping in crowded stores just before, on, or after Thanksgiving” as a higher-risk activity.
Due to the anticipated surge of online shoppers this season, many big-name retailers have announced changes to their traditional holiday sales such as online-only sales, online pick-up options, and more.
4) Wear a mask around others.
Studies continue to affirm the effectiveness of wearing a mask in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. And both local and federal government branches have cited the importance of wearing a mask when around other people who do not live in your home. So if you find yourself going out in public or spending time with friends and family, consider wearing a mask to protect yourself and others.
5) Find the right health insurance coverage.
Modern medicine has yet to fully discover the long-term effects of COVID-19 but there are many health conditions scientists can already link to the virus.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “COVID-19 symptoms can sometimes persist for months. The virus can damage the lungs, heart and brain, which increases the risk of long-term health problems.”
Having health insurance coverage for you and your family can help cover the cost of both major and preventative medical care – and now is the best time to get coverage. The annual individual health Open Enrollment period began on November 1 and runs through December 15.
This is the only time of year to enroll in ACA-compliant health coverage unless you experience a Qualifying Life Event.
For more information on health insurance or to start shopping available plans, visit the individual health insurance page today.
Shopping for something as important as health coverage can feel overwhelming—especially if you’re looking for a plan to help protect your whole family.
With the health insurance landscape changing every year, we know that it can be difficult to stay on top of which carriers and plans are available, so we do all that for you.
Tap Into Our Knowledgebase
By scheduling a 15-minute appointment with one of our licensed benefit counselors you’ll gain access to experts with vast industry insight—who are have studied state regulatory changes and are familiar with the latest available coverage options. Our counselors take the time to get to know your needs, concerns, and budget, to help find you the right plan, not just any plan.
Preparing for Your Appointment
After scheduling your appointment, you’ll want to gather the following information:
- The basics: your address, phone number, date of birth, SSN, household size, income level
- Plan and premium details for any employer-based plan available to you or your household
- List of current medications
- Name and zip code of the current healthcare providers that you’d like to continue using
- Payment information
Having this information ready when your counselor calls will help them efficiently guide you toward the best coverage for your needs.
Taking the Next Step
This year’s Open Enrollment period is November 1 – December 15. If you enroll in an ACA-compliant health insurance plan during this period, the effective date will be January 1, 2021. This is the only time of year to receive ACA-compliant health insurance coverage, unless you were to experience a qualifying life event.
If you’re ready to see what the 2021 individual health insurance marketplace has to offer, we recommend scheduling an appointment with a licensed benefit counselor now. (Appointment availability becomes more limited beginning in the second half of November.)
For more information or to start shopping plans, visit the individual health insurance page today.
Missed our recent Open Enrollment webinar? View a replay below.
We’ve heard a lot of Open Enrollment myths over the years and want to set the record straight.
Myth #1 “There are fewer insurers to choose from.”
Many carriers who initially fled the federal exchange have returned and now offer plans alongside others who have entered the marketplace. This increase in the number of plans being offered has allowed many individuals and families to re-examine their needs and adjust their coverage amounts accordingly.
In addition to having access to the same carriers and plans listed on the federal exchange, the AMSA Health Insurance Marketplace can offer members even more options. To view the full range of available ACA-compliant health plans, please visit https://amsa.memberbenefits.com/.
Myth #2 “The premiums are too expensive.”
Now that the federal exchange marketplace has stabilized, there may be lower-cost options for ACA-compliant health plans than past Open Enrollment periods. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield has filed for a 2.03% decrease in premiums in Texas.
Even if your coverage needs remain the same, you may be able to find a lower premium being offered by a different insurer. We recommend always reviewing the health insurance options available to you during the annual Open Enrollment period.
Myth #3 “You’ll be penalized at tax time for not having insurance.”
In previous years, if an individual did not have health insurance for more than 2 months of the year and did not qualify for an exemption they would face a tax penalty of $695 or 2.5% of their taxable income (whichever amount was greater). As of January 1, 2019, the tax penalty known as the individual mandate has been repealed, though some states may still enforce penalties on individuals who don’t have health insurance.
Myth #4 “Applications are processed instantly.”
On average, our team will process an enrollment application within 24 business hours and submit it to the carrier. Once the application is with the carrier, their team will take over and require an additional 10-15 business days to process the application.
The carriers often get overwhelmed with applications during the Open Enrollment period, so we recommend enrollees submit their health insurance applications as early as possible.
Securing ACA-Complaint Coverage for 2020
This year, Open Enrollment runs from November 1 through December 15 with a coverage effective date of January 1, 2020. This is the one time of year where individuals and families can enroll in ACA-compliant health insurance plans.
Ready to start shopping? Visit https://amsa.memberbenefits.com/ to shop ACA-compliant health plans today.
Not sure where to start? Schedule an appointment with one of our licensed benefits counselors and let us walk you through finding the best health insurance fit for your needs.
With 2020 Open Enrollment period in full swing, families across the country are reviewing their current insurance coverages and seeing what other options may be available to them. Below are a few tips to help you navigate the process.
- Learn the Language
Insurance jargon may be enough to make some people’s heads spin but learning just a few key terms could help you pick the best health coverage for you and your family. To make it easy, here are a few words we feel you should know:
- “ACA-compliant” refers to plans that follow all the guidelines and regulations in the Affordable Care Act. These plans are only available during the annual Open Enrollment period or through a Special enrollment period, if you have a qualifying event.
- “Non-ACA plans” also known as short term health plans do not adhere to all of the Affordable Care Act’s guidelines and regulations.
- “Deductible” the amount of money you must pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in
- “Premium” the amount you pay to your insurance company every month
- “In-network” refers to a provider that has a contract with your insurance provider
- “Out-of-network” refers to a provider that does not have a contract with your insurance provider
- Think of the Future
No one can predict the future, but you may be able to take an educated guess as to what the next 12 months could hold. Thinking about the coming year could help you determine how much coverage is right for you and your family. Have you had any health issues in the past year? Are you taking any medications? By examining your current health status and concerns you may be able to narrow down your health insurance plan options.
- Utilize Your Resources
Did you know as a benefit of your AMSA membership, you have access to our team of licensed Benefits Counselors? Our Benefits Counselors are experts in their field and are standing by to help you navigate the Open Enrollment process and find the best health insurance for you and your family’s needs.
We’ve been providing health insurance answers and guidance for over 30 years. Be sure to visit the AMSA Health Insurance Marketplace for access to appointment scheduling services, webinar replays, and other informational resources designed to help make the Open Enrollment process as quick and easy as possible.
- Know Your Deadlines
Like last year, the annual individual health insurance Open Enrollment period began on November 1 and will run until December 15. For those who enroll in one of these ACA-compliant plans, you can expect an effective date of January 1.
Non-ACA plans typically do not follow the ACA open enrollment period dates and are available in most states year-round.
Ready to make your decision? Visit https://amsa.memberbenefits.com/health-insurance/ today to secure ACA-compliant coverage for you and your family in 2020.
The next official ACA Open Enrollment period isn’t slated to begin until November 1, 2019. But depending on your circumstances, you may not have to wait that long to obtain coverage.
Qualifying Life Events and Special Enrollment Periods
Sometimes our circumstances change, and if they change due to specific events, you and your dependents may be able to secure health insurance through a Special Enrollment Period. When this occurs, it is called a Qualifying Life Event, otherwise referred to as a QLE.
There are several types of Qualifying Life Events that may grant you a Special Enrollment Period. Some of the most common examples include:
- Loss of health coverage
- Losing existing health coverage – including job-based, individual, and student plans
- Losing eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP
- Turning 26 and losing coverage through a parent’s plan
- Changes in household size
- Getting married or divorced
- Having a baby or adopting a child
- Death in the family
- Changes in residence
- Moving to a different ZIP code or county
- A student moving to or from the place they attend school
- A seasonal worker moving to or from the place they both live and work
- Moving to or from a shelter or other transitional housing
- Other qualifying events
- Changes in your income that affect the coverage you qualify for
- Gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe, or status as an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholder
- Becoming a U.S. citizen
- Leaving incarceration (jail or prison)
- AmeriCorps members starting or ending their service
Non-ACA Health Plans
Haven’t experienced a QLE but still need health coverage? A non-ACA health plan could be the answer. Also referred to as Short Term Medical Plans, recent legislative changes have loosened the restrictions surrounding these plans and have increased their appeal.
Previously, a Short-Term Medical plan could only provide coverage for up to 90 days. But due to recent regulatory changes, these plans can now be continued for up to a year. Additionally, in some cases applicants may now renew their plan for up to three years.
Because Short-Term Medical Plans are considered non-ACA health plans, it is worth noting that they may not cover all that an ACA health plan would. For example, applicants could be denied coverage due to a pre-existing medical condition, maternity care may not be covered, and there could be an annual dollar limit on coverage. However, these plans are also typically less expensive than ACA plans and could be a good alternative for individuals seeking more affordable options.
Know Your Options
Do you think you may qualify for a Special Enrollment period? Are you interested in hearing more about non-ACA plans and if they may be the right fit for you? Our Benefits Counselors are always on hand to help answer your questions and guide you in the direction that will make the most sense for your unique needs.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to get your individual health coverage for 2017. Open Enrollment for Individual Health Insurance ends on January 31st. If you haven’t enrolled in a plan by this date, you may be stuck with your current coverage or no coverage for the remainder of the year unless you have a qualifying life event. Schedule an appointment with a licensed benefits counselor or start shopping today to make sure you are covered.
How to get Health Coverage Outside of the Open Enrollment Period
Your Guide to Understanding Qualifying Life Events and Special Enrollment
Life happens, and when it does, it is very likely that your Health Insurance coverage may need to change. When you encounter a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) that impacts your insurance needs, it is important to know that you can take advantage of a special enrollment period – since most people are unaware that they may enroll outside of Open Enrollment.