For millions of people, it is time to compare services and prices and choose health coverage on the market. Health Insurance Marketplaces Under the Affordable Care Act.
Registration open on these plans began on November 1 and generally lasts until January 15, although this is extended until January 16, 2024 due to a federal holiday.
Enrollments have set records in each of the past four years, thanks in part to increased premium tax credits that were extended through 2025, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (PPCB).
As of February, 15.6 million people had enrolled in an ACA marketplace plan for 2023 and paid the first month’s premium, according to the nonpartisan Research and Policy Institute.
Enrollment will likely remain high this year, according to Jennifer Sullivan, director of health coverage access at CBPP.
“People can continue to get very robust assistance to cover the cost of premiums,” Sullivan said.
Additionally, as some people are about to lose their Medicaid coverage or Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage, they may need to switch to marketplace coverage.
People who lost coverage through these plans and turn to the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace will benefit from a special enrollment period until the end of next July, Sullivan noted.
Importantly, this special enrollment period also allows them to enroll and begin their coverage before January.
However, for anyone looking to enroll in a marketplace health plan for next year, it’s best to try to do so as soon as possible.
In states that use the marketplace, you’ll need to sign up by Dec. 15 to ensure you’re covered by Jan. 1, according to Louise Norris, a health policy analyst at HealthInsurance.org which provides consumers with educational resources about health insurance.
If you wait until January to sign up, your coverage won’t take effect until February 1, she noted.
“Tell yourself the deadline is Dec. 15,” Norris said, “and try to get it done by then, just to have a full year of coverage.”
The Affordable Care Act Marketplace is available in 32 states. The other 18 states and Washington, D.C., use their own markets and are free to set their own deadlines, Norris said.
For example, Idaho has an early open enrollment period that begins October 15 and ends December 15. Other states may extend their open enrollment until the end of January.
No matter where you live, you can use the “Find Local Help” tool on Healthcare.gov. Once you enter your zip code, you’ll see which plans are covered in your area.
Additionally, the Get a Covered Connector provides navigators and other help by ZIP code, and appointments can be made directly in the tool, Sullivan said.
Searching can also help you find a list of brokers, navigators, and listing advisors that are both state licensed and exchange certified.
Navigators are often best for complicated households, such as those where some family members are Medicaid eligible while others are marketplace eligible, according to Sullivan.
“It’s important for people to know they can get free help understanding their options,” Sullivan said.
This free help can include help filling out applications and understanding questions asked by professionals not affiliated with insurance companies, she noted.
While it may be tempting to automatically renew your current exchange plan, which is possible in most cases, there are reasons to review your coverage, Norris said.
“It’s still better to choose your own plan,” she said.
About 13 states will see new carriers enter the market by 2024, she said. Meanwhile, Virginia will launch a new exchange next year.
“One of these new plans might be a good option for you,” Norris said. “And you won’t know it if you just let your plan roll over and don’t go in and actively look.”
If your health has changed, especially if you want access to certain doctors or prescription medications, it’s also wise to research your options. Also be sure to pay attention to how much deductibles you’ll have to pay, she said.
According to Norris, nine out of 10 people enrolled in marketplace plans nationwide will receive subsidized premiums next year.
Additionally, nearly half of enrollees will receive cost-sharing reductions that could lower their deductibles or out-of-pocket costs, she said.
A grant calculator on HealthInsurance.org can help you check your eligibility.
Additionally, some states offer their own grants that can help reduce costs.