Okay, okay, so we convinced you of why you should enroll in Obamacare. But like many aspects of personal finance, recognizing its importance is one thing – feeling confident about carrying through is another.
So let’s walk through the process of how to enroll in Obamacare step by step, shall we?
Step 1: Know the open enrollment deadlines
Open enrollment for health insurance typically falls near the end of the calendar year for coverage beginning January 1 of the next year.
At this point, the open enrollment deadline for 2016 coverage for the full year has passed. However, as the Affordable Care Act is being phased in, there are additional, later deadlines enabling you to obtain coverage for the majority of the year.
Enrolling by the final, January 31 deadline will give you coverage that begins on March 1, which will help you avoid paying the Obamacare penalty when you file your taxes. If you don’t obtain coverage by the deadline, then you’ll be shut out of the market until the next open enrollment at the end of the calendar year, unless you experience what is known as a qualifying event.
Qualifying events include loss of other coverage (usually due to a change in employment status), marriage, or birth/adoption of a child.
Step 2: Know whether you’ll be obtaining coverage from an employer or on the exchange
If your employer offers health insurance coverage as an employment benefit, things are likely simpler – and less expensive, since employers usually subsidize the cost of coverage for eligible employees.
Should this be your situation, human resources will provide you with information on the provided plans, as well as notify you of the company’s deadline for signing up for coverage (almost always, these dates will fall earlier than exchange deadlines do).
On the other hand, if you’re working part-time, unemployed, or are an independent contractor (such as a freelancer who works from home), you may not have access to or be eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance enrollment. In that case, you will be purchasing coverage via the exchange for Obamacare open enrollment 2016.
To look at plans on the exchange, you’ll go to HealthCare.gov, which will provide you with a list of plans you’re eligible for after you input information about your state of residence, income, and family size, among other details.
Step 3: Weigh your options according to cost and coverage needs
Much as you’d expect, the rule of thumb for health insurance coverage is that the more you pay in premiums, the less you’ll probably pay in copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
However, a rule of thumb is NOT a guarantee, so read the fine print for all the plans you’re considering very carefully.
For example, if you’re young, single, relatively healthy, and don’t have or expect to have children in the near future, you may select a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). While these plans have greater out-of-pocket costs than plans with higher monthly premiums, should you end up seeking care, they’ll provide savings compared to being in the same situation while uninsured. And if (as you hope) you don’t need care at all, you’ll pay only the lower premiums.
However, let’s say you have ongoing health issues, require specialist visits, and/or have children (or plan to have them soon). In that case, it may be worth it to choose a plan where you pay a higher monthly premium, but have to pay less out of pocket for (inevitable) medical expenses.
The more accurately you’re able to predict your medical needs, what doctors you need to be considered in-network, etc., the easier it will be to determine which plan will be the best fit for you and your family.
Step 4: Ask for help if you need it
The legalese associated with plan information can be both confusing and overwhelming. Fortunately, there’s assistance available to help you understand your options and pick the plan most closely aligned with your needs.
If you will be signing up for an employer-sponsored plan, someone from Human Resources should be able to walk you through a detailed comparison of the available health insurance enrollment options
If you’ll be participating in Obamacare enrollment 2016 on the exchange, you can call the toll-free number listed on the HealthCare.gov website or click on the “find local help” link to access qualified help. Many times, you will even be able to meet in person with someone who can help you apply online, pick a plan, and enroll.
These services are available at no cost to you, but be aware that the longer you wait, the busier those folks are likely to be. If you wait too long, you may not be able to get assistance by the enrollment deadline, so don’t procrastinate if you have questions.
Step 5: Keep track of what works and what doesn’t
As the year goes on, make note of any changes to your healthcare needs. Additionally, if you find yourself paying more than expected for services, jot down the service, provider, and cost. That way, when open enrollment for health insurance for 2017 rolls around, you’ll have a better idea of what questions to ask, increasing the likelihood of finding a plan that is a good fit for you.
And there you have it: how to enroll in Obamacare in a nutshell!
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 6.23%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
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|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|