The year is quickly coming to an end, which means that it’s open enrollment time for those who are shopping for health insurance, or who wish to switch their plan to one that better suits their needs.
Open enrollment can be a bit confusing, so we’ve compiled some helpful information that will hopefully make it easier for you to navigate it all like a pro. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about Open Enrollment 2021!
First off, it’s important to realize that open enrollment doesn’t last very long at all. This year, it will start on November 1, and it will run until December 15.
This is your window for signing up for new health insurance, renewing a current plan, or making a switch if you want to. And, if you’re receiving, or planning on receiving, a subsidy, it’s also the time to update your information so you can get the right amount next year. You only have several weeks to get this done, so make sure you set aside some time!
Note: You don’t have to wait until November 1 to start looking into your options. You might be able to start browsing plans from health insurance providers in advance to get an idea of what will be available. This can be a smart way to weigh your options, and calculate your budget, so you don’t have to make the decision at the last minute.
What’s the big deal about hitting this deadline? Well, once the open enrollment window closes, you won’t be able to just sign up for an ACA-compliant plan whenever you want.
From that point on, unless you qualify for what’s known as a Special Enrollment Period, you’ll have to stick with the plan that you were on last year, provided that it renewed automatically, or you’ll have to go without insurance if you didn’t have any to start with. And you’ll have to wait until next year’s open enrollment to get what you need. That’s a long time!
Now that we have the basics down, we need to talk about state-by-state differences when it comes to open enrollment because this is where things get a little complicated.
Every state will begin open enrollment on November 1, so that’s your chance to get the coverage you and your family will need in the coming year. And, if your state uses the Healthcare.gov marketplace to give you access to available plans, the deadline will be December 15.
However, there are some states that have state-run exchanges, and they might have extended the deadline. For example, some states might have extended their deadline all the way to January 31, 2021! So, just be sure to verify what your state requires. That way, you won’t miss a beat.
Generally, if you do enroll in a health insurance plan before open enrollment closes, your coverage will start on January 1, 2021. And if you are switching to a new plan, your old one will be canceled on December 31. It’s that simple!
But, if your state has extended the deadline to enroll, and you do end up signing up for a plan after December 15, the date that the plan becomes effective will likely be different. You might need to wait until February or March for your plan to become active. Therefore, signing up sooner rather than later might be a better move, even if you have been given extra time by your state.
If you opt to simply renew the plan that you currently have because you like it, it should continue uninterrupted when the new year starts. Of course, you’ll need to be sure that the plan you’re on will still be available next year, though, as things can change from one year to the next.
While you might be able to find health insurance plans that include some level of coverage for dental and vision, if you want more comprehensive support, you might choose to purchase standalone dental and/or vision insurance directly from providers like Spirit.
If you do decide to go with a separate dental or vision insurance policy, you won’t need to worry about signing up before open enrollment is over. Instead, you are welcome to sign up for these types of plans at any time throughout the year. Now, that’s convenient!
Ultimately, open enrollment is your chance to take some time to evaluate your health insurance needs, and then sign up for the plan that suits your expectations and budget best. But if you also want to sign up for dental and vision insurance to be sure you can take awesome care of your mouth and eyes affordably, you don’t need to feel restricted to doing that only during open enrollment, so you can take extra time if you need it.