Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act health insurance is ending.what to know

If you need health insurance through the Affordable Care Act in 2024, the enrollment deadline is coming — open enrollment ends next week for those who need coverage on January 1, 2024. The ACA was designed to give more Americans access to health insurance. It also expanded Medicaid and supported new ways to deliver health care, such as ACA Health Homes.

As of March, more than 40 million Americans were enrolled in the ACA health insurance marketplace. The ACA, also known as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010 by President Barack Obama. Read on to learn if you qualify for ACA coverage, how to get coverage, and the deadlines.

Learn more health care tips,learn Best telemedicine services and learn how to save on medical expenses if you don’t have insurance.

When is the deadline to sign up for a health plan in the ACA Marketplace?

While open enrollment lasts until January 15, you’ll need to sign up by December 15 to get full coverage as early as January 1, 2024. If you sign up for a plan and pay your premium between December 16 and January 15, your coverage will begin on February 1.

Depending on your specific situation, you may qualify for special registration outside of these dates. You can qualify in the following ways:

A life-changing event happened in the past 60 days: These events include losing health insurance, having a baby, getting married, divorced, or moving to a new zip code. Additionally, you may qualify if your household income changes or someone in your plan dies.

Please note that if you move to a new ZIP code, you must show proof that you had coverage for at least one day in the past 60 days or you will lose coverage for the next 60 days. Additionally, if you lose your job and decide not to receive COBRA (Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) coverage, you can still enroll in an ACA plan.

You are applying for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): If you are applying for any of these plans, you can apply for health insurance through the Marketplace at any time.

Other life circumstances that may make you eligible:

  • You are about to be released from prison.
  • You have just become a U.S. citizen.
  • You will begin or end your service in the American Legion.
  • You have membership in a federally recognized tribe or status as an Alaska Native Claims Act (ANCSA) corporate shareholder.

To find out if you qualify for special enrollment, follow the steps above to visit healthcare.gov/screener/. If you qualify, your health plan will become effective on the first of the month following your enrollment. For example, if you sign up in February, your coverage will begin on March 1st.

What health insurance plans does the ACA offer?

Piggy bank lying on scattered 20 dollar bills

Spending more money on a premium plan may actually help you save money in the long run.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Assuming you qualify under the Affordable Care Act (see below), the state in which you live will determine which health care providers are available to you. For each plan, you should see Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum options. Here’s a detailed explanation of how each plan works.

bronze: You’ll pay the lowest monthly premium, but you’ll pay more when it comes to paying for care. Bronze plans typically have much higher deductibles than other options, so you’ll pay more out-of-pocket until you meet your deductible.

silver: This middle-of-the-road policy comes with a modest monthly premium. It will cost more than a Bronze plan, but your medical bills will be less than if you choose a Bronze plan.

Gold: This plan includes high monthly premiums, along with low costs when you need health care. A low deductible means your out-of-pocket medical costs will be much less than with bronze and silver plans.

platinum: The most expensive monthly premiums provide you with the lowest medical costs. With very low deductibles, your plan will start paying for your medical expenses earlier than any other option.

Deciding which plan to choose depends on your lifestyle, how often you need health care, and what type of health care you need. For example, if you’re in good health and only want coverage for emergencies, you might choose a Bronze or Silver plan. If you are currently undergoing treatment or anticipate needing regular medical attention, the Gold and Platinum options may be your best choice.

If you are under 30 or exempt because you cannot afford health insurance, you may qualify for a catastrophic plan, which has very low monthly premiums and very high deductibles.

Note: Premiums are based on income level, so if you earn less, your premiums may be lower.

How do I determine if I qualify for an Affordable Care Act plan?

Before you start considering which plan to choose, you should find out whether you actually qualify for a plan through the health insurance marketplace. Visit healthcare.gov/screener and enter your zip code.

Next, you’ll answer a few questions to see if you qualify for a discount or full coverage. Once you have your answers, the next step is to fill out an application with the health insurance marketplace or your state’s own marketplace to see plans and prices.

How to Register for Obamacare

Once you’re ready to enroll (whether between now and January 15 or through special enrollment), you’ll need to set up an account at HealthCare.gov or through a provider in your state. You’ll then complete an application to review plans and pricing and choose the option that’s best for you.

Things you may need when applying:

  • social Security number for everyone on your application.
  • Employer and income information for everyone in your household.
  • Current health insurance policy number (if applicable).
  • Information about health insurance provided by your employer.
  • Immigration documents.

Likewise, after you enroll, your plan should start on the first day of the month following your enrollment date, assuming you have paid your first month’s premium.

After you sign up, look for your insurance card in the mail, as well as any other information about your chosen health care plan.

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