Are you in need of health insurance this year, or think you might be looking at some point, for yourself or someone in your family? Job changes or children aging out of parents’ plans can often send us to the exchanges seeking the best coverage for the best deal. But anytime we’re shopping for insurance — particularly when that insurance impacts our health — it’s important to go in as an educated consumer. So, where to start when it comes to 2021 healthcare exchanges?
Thankfully, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you, and we checked in with experts who have laid out what you need to know about the healthcare exchanges in 2021.
“The healthcare exchange has always been somewhat easy to navigate,” says Tracy Sherwood, President and Financial Advisor at Sherwood Financial Management. “I’ve advised clients to start with their existing, or prior insurance carrier, see what plans they may offer on the marketplace or price out what a similar policy/coverage would cost on the exchange”
What To Consider Before Applying
It is important to consider what you can afford to spend on health insurance prior to applying, says health insurance expert at Policygenius, Hanna Horvath.
“Monthly individual premiums cost an average $450, but that doesn’t account for other out-of-pocket expenses you might have to pay, Horvath says. “Know what your plans cover. According to the most recent annual Policygenius health care survey, only 37% of Americans knew Affordable Care Act plans covered those with pre-existing conditions.”
In other words, be sure to have a comprehensive understanding of your budget and spending limitations before you apply for health insurance.
Accessibility Of Premium Subsidies
Both Horvath and Sherwood emphasize how premium subsidies have become increasingly accessible due to the most recent stimulus law.
“More people than ever qualify for help paying for premiums, even those who didn’t qualify in the past,” Sherwood says. “Federal law has changed and more tax credits are available to those who buy a plan through their state.”
Now might be the right time for you to take advantage of this opportunity. “Subsidies make it easier for lower-income Americans to afford health insurance, so it may be able to help you find a more affordable health care option,” Horvath says.
Expanded Enrollment Period
Another key piece of information to consider is the expanded enrollment period provided by the government.
“Today, due to the Covid-19 emergency, the enrollment period has been expanded through August 15. You have until August 15 to enroll or change your Healthcare Marketplace plan,” Sherwood says.
Previously, Horvath explains, the enrollment period runs from November 1 to December 15.
“This impacts anyone who is looking for new health coverage, especially those who lost their benefits during the pandemic, but anyone can shop the exchange and check for a better deal that meets their needs,” Horvath says.
90-Day Grace Period
Sherwood also notes that many states often offer a 90 day grace period if you forget or fail to make a payment on time. “If you fall behind and miss a monthly premium payment due to strained finances, you have 90-days to pay those premium dollars in full, before you lose coverage retroactive to that period,” she says.
But don’t count on this — check with your state to make sure, and always try to pay on time. (Calendar reminders can be your best friend!)
- HerMoney Podcast: Daily Rituals, Healing, And Self-Care: A How-To
- When Self-Care Isn’t Enough. How To Shop For The Right Therapist For You
- Navigating The Healthcare System And Being Your Own Advocate
- How I Navigated The Healthcare System Alone When My Husband Was Diagnosed With Cancer
SUBSCRIBE: Get behind-the-scenes financial insights from our own Jean Chatzky. Subscribe to HerMoney today.