I just wanted to take a few moments to remind you of another important deadline that is fast approaching. The last day to enroll in a subsidized Affordable Care Act health insurance plan with an effective date of January 1, 2014, is December 23. This deadline applies only to the federal marketplace, as each state with their own exchange may have a different deadline (as early as December 15 in some states).
Deadlines Change in January
Although the open enrollment period for the ACA continues until March 31, 2014, from January onward the deadline is the 15th of each month for exchange policies to go into effect on the 1st of the following month. For example, a policy with an effective date of February 1 must be purchased by January 15. The December 23 deadline is a one-time-only deadline extension for policies effective January 1.
If you do not expect to receive a subsidy (available to those earning less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level), your insurance agent will not have to run your order through the government exchange. For many carriers, you will still be able to get an off-exchange plan with a January 1 effective date as late as December 31.
Consult an Insurance Professional
In addition to the reminder of this very important deadline, I also want to remind you that talking with an insurance professional before making a health insurance decision is the only reliable way you can prevent some of the problems people have been encountering while signing up for ACA plans. We have heard stories of people who have purchased a plan based on price only to find they did not have important coverage they needed, and even of someone who submitted an application on the federal health exchange only to find his family pet had somehow been enrolled instead of him!
You may be under the impression that if you qualify for a premium subsidy you are required to purchase your ACA health plan on either the federal or state exchange and therefore are not allowed to discuss your options with an insurance professional. This is not true. You can (and should!) always have the help of an agent or broker to make your health insurance decision; he or she can help you calculate your subsidy for you, and a licensed agent can also make the purchase on the exchange on your behalf.
Wiley Long is President of HSA for America, and a passionate advocate for consumer-based solutions that will improve price transparency and lower health insurance and medical costs for people purchasing individual and family health insurance plans.