What is Open Enrollment?

You are likely confused about open enrolment in 2020. You might even find yourself asking, “What does open enrollment mean?” Open enrollment refers to the time that you can sign up for health insurance. When you sign up for health insurance during the open enrollment period, you cannot be denied coverage. Health insurance companies do not use underwriting during the open enrollment period.

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is open enrollment,” learn more.

California Open Enrollment Dates

Open enrollment varies by state. ACA open enrollment in California begins on Oct. 15, 2019, and runs through Jan. 15, 2020. This open enrollment period is longer than the period mandated by the federal government, giving Californians extra time to sign up for health insurance.

If you want your insurance to be effective on Jan. 1, 2020, you must apply by Dec. 15, 2019. If you purchase coverage after Dec. 15, 2019 but by Jan. 1, 2020, it will be in effect by Feb. 1, 2020.

Subsidies Available for Low-income Applicants

Low-income individuals and families who apply for insurance during the 2020 open enrollment period might be eligible for cost-reducing subsidies. The state of California has changed its guidelines regarding subsidies in 2020, so more people will be eligible than ever before.

Under the new guidelines, families and individuals with earnings between 400-600 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL) will qualify for subsidies. That means that individuals who make approximately $50,000 to $75,000 a year will qualify for subsidies. Families of four that make approximately $103,000 to $155,000 will also qualify. This is the first time the state will offer subsidies to middle-class families and individuals.

The amount the family or individual receives in subsidies depends on the income. Those who make zero to 138 percent of the FPL will not have to pay for health insurance. However, those who are in this income bracket should speak to a licensed insurance agent. They cannot simply pick up insurance during the health care open enrollment period without paying a premium. There are steps they must take to qualify for zero-premium health insurance. An insurance agent can guide people through these steps.

Families and individuals who make between 200 to 400 percent of the FPL will receive federal and state subsidies. Federal subsidies cover most of the cost of coverage, but state subsidies also help reduced costs.

Instead of providing a dollar amount for the subsidies, the federal government determines the percentage of income that people will pay. These subsidies are only available for families and individuals who purchase Silver plans.

Those who earn 200 to 250 percent of the FPL have an expected contribution of 6.49 to 8.29 percent of their income. If earnings are 250 to 300 percent of the FPL, the expected contribution is 8.29 to 9.78 percent of the income. For those who make 300 to 400 percent of the FPL, the expected contribution is 9.78 percent of the earnings.

Along with federal subsidies, the state will also provide financial help. State subsidies will average about $10 a month for those who are 200 to 400 percent of the FPL.

Individuals and families who make 400 to 600 percent of the FPL now qualify for subsidies in California, but they do not qualify for federal subsidies. It is anticipated that they will save approximately $100 a month on health insurance.

Penalty for No Health Insurance

The federal government no longer has an individual mandate for health insurance. However, California has restored the individual mandate to cover the cost of the new subsidies. Those who do not take advantage of the Obamacare open enrollment period and go without health insurance will have to pay a penalty. The penalty will be waived for those who cannot afford health insurance.

In 2020, the individual mandate penalty will be 2 percent of the household income or $695. The family or individual will be charged the higher amount of the two. The penalty will be assessed and charged at the time of the taxes.

Preparing for Open Enrollment 2020

It’s easy to prepare for open enrollment in 2020. You need to gather a few documents and some information, and then you can apply.

You will need social security numbers for every person who will be part of your health insurance plan. You also need your current health insurance information, if applicable, and your taxes. Basic information such as the date of birth is also needed for the people who will be on your plan.

Finally, you need to decide the type of coverage you need. If you are unsure of this, a health insurance agent can help.

What Is a Special Enrollment Period?

If you miss the open enrollment period, you might qualify for the special enrollment period. You can enroll in health insurance outside of the open enrollment period if you have a life qualifying event that caused you to lose your health insurance. Life qualifying events include losing your job, moving, getting divorced or married, or becoming widowed. You can also sign up during a special enrollment period if you are no longer eligible for your parents’ plan or your COBRA coverage expires.

Applying for Health Insurance in California

Applying for health insurance is simple when you get help from a licensed insurance agent. Cost-U-Less helps people find affordable health insurance that includes the coverage they need. You will receive a customized quote based on your needs.

Living without health insurance is expensive and dangerous. You could end up with expensive medical bills or ignore health problems because you can’t afford to see a doctor. Avoid the hassle by calling Cost-U-Less at (800) 390-4071 today for a free California health insurance quote.