Special Open Enrollment 2021

President Joe Biden signed a package of health care-related executive orders on Thursday, January 28, 2021, that, among other initiatives, will reopen HealthCare.gov for a special, three-month enrollment period starting on Feb. 15, 2021.
That means Americans without health insurance have a chance to check out their state’s health insurance marketplace options offered through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, outside the normal Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 period. This can offer many Americans, particularly those who have dealt with unemployment amid the Covid-19 pandemic, another chance to get insurance.

For those interested in the special enrollment period starting in about two weeks, here’s a rundown on where to start and what to consider before enrolling. 

Start with HealthCare.gov resources

If you’re not sure where to start, check out HealthCare.govConsumers will be able to apply for new coverage or update an existing application through HealthCare.gov, the Marketplace call center or direct enrollment channels such as state-based marketplaces.

Financial help is available when signing up for health insurance through the Marketplace. Last year, nine in 10 applicants qualified for financial help in obtaining health care coverage. Consumers enrolling in a plan on HealthCare.gov are guaranteed to receive comprehensive coverage, with no pre-existing condition exclusions or markups. All plans cover essential benefits, including doctor and hospital visits, prescription drugs, mental health treatment, and maternity care. In addition, consumers receive free preventive care services, such as immunizations and health screenings. Testing and treatment of COVID-19 are considered essential health benefits and are covered by all HealthCare.gov plans.

Check out Covered California

Covered California says it will give people more time to purchase health insurance this year.  Open enrollment for the state’s health insurance marketplace was set to end Jan 31. But on Thursday, the agency that runs the marketplace said it would launch a special enrollment period Feb. 1 that will run through May 15.

Most states let the federal government run their marketplaces for them but California runs its own through Covered California.  In a news release, Covered California said of the estimated 2.7 million Californians who lack health insurance, about 1.2 million are either eligible for subsidies to help pay their monthly premiums or qualify for government-funded insurance through Medicaid.

Look into Medicaid 

Depending on your situation and where you live, you may qualify for Medicaid. This is a program that provides health coverage for low-income families and children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities. 

In some states, Medicaid is available for all adults under a certain income threshold. To see if you qualify, HealthCare.gov has a calculator where you can plug in your home state, family size and income level.

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