Get Covered During Open Enrollment

13 Jan Get Covered During Open Enrollment

By Olivia Blocker.

It’s that time of year again: the first month of our New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym, eat healthier, and become a better you. It can be hard to stay motivated if you don’t have help and support from friends and family. But it can be even harder to actually be healthy if you don’t have health insurance. The benefits of having good health insurance are often overlooked when making New Year’s resolutions and can be a very confusing and frustrating process, especially for young people.

“Among adults ages 26 to 34, the uninsured rate was 23.7%, according to Gallup data released last month; for people ages 18 to 25, the rate was 18.7%, a percentage that has fallen thanks to the healthcare reform law’s provision allowing children up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ plan. For all other adults under the age of 65, the uninsured rate was 13.4%[i].” As you can see, young adults are one of the most uninsured populations in the United States. So, it is important to know what your options are when you turn 18, if you are unemployed, if you become pregnant, or if you have children. “Options” means that you can make informed decisions about your own health and the health of your family.

Open enrollment is the time of year you can apply for cost assistance, switch plans, or enroll in a major medical plan. For 2016, it is running from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. Health insurance types like employer coverage, Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) have specific enrollment periods, and while you can apply to Medicaid and CHIP anytime of year, it can be much simpler to do so during open enrollment (exceptions to this may apply).

If your parents have private insurance (either through their employer or through the marketplace), then you can stay on their insurance plan up to the age of 26: thanks, Obama! Unfortunately, the same does not apply to folks whose parents are using Medicaid for their health insurance. That means when you turn 18, you will have to apply for your own health insurance, and there are a number of ways that you can go about doing that:

  1. Apply for Medicaid: Medicaid insures millions of low-income individuals and people living with disabilities. Illinois has accepted the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, allowing people living under 133% of the federal poverty line to access Medicaid. Whether you’re employed or unemployed, this can be an option for you! Apply Here!

    In Illinois, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides health insurance for children in families with incomes that are too high for Medicaid, but too low for private insurance through the Marketplace. You can apply any time of the year! Apply Here!

  2. Marketplace: The marketplace is where you can go to find and compare different health insurance options. You could be eligible for savings based on your income (NOTE: If anyone claims you as a dependent on their taxes, you are no longer eligible for these savings). Apply Here!
  3. Employer Coverage: Some employers provide insurance! Check with your employer to determine whether or not that is provided, and if it is, what is covered!
  4. College-University Options: If you’re a student and your school offers a health insurance plan, it can be an easy, affordable way to get health insurance. Most of the time, your student health plan qualifies as minimum essential coverage, meaning you will not have to pay the fee for being uninsured. Contact your college/university for more information!
  5. Catastrophic Health Plan: Catastrophic health insurance plans have low monthly premiums and a very high deductible — $6,850. They may be an affordable way to protect yourself from worst-case scenarios, like getting seriously sick or injured. You pay most routine medical expenses yourself. Apply Here! 

If you are unemployed, you can still purchase health insurance through the marketplace and potentially qualify for tax credits and savings on out-of-pocket costs (e.g. co-pays, deductibles, etc.) based on income and household size, but it could be more difficult. You may also be eligible for Medicaid or the CHIP (see above!).

If you’re pregnant or become pregnant, all Marketplace and Medicaid plans cover pregnancy and childbirth (even if your pregnancy begins before your coverage takes effect!).

Having a child qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), meaning that after childbirth, you can enroll in a new plan or change your Marketplace coverage, even outside of open enrollment.

Now is the time! Check out all of your options so you can make healthy, informed decisions about your body.

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