5 things Independent Workers need to know about Open Enrollment

November 18, 2021

Open Enrollment for 2022 health care coverage started on November 1. Federal and state-run marketplaces for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are accepting new enrollees and re-enrolls for next year at healthcare.gov.

With so many independent workers leaving their employers and employer-based health care plans because of the Great Resignation, this Open Enrollment period may be one of the most important yet.

We want to help you make the best decision for you and your families. Here’s five things you need to know about this year’s Open Enrollment period to make choosing health insurance as simple as possible. 

1. There are multiple deadlines and timetables for Open Enrollment 2021-2022.

The top question for most people is “When is Open Enrollment?” Open Enrollment for the ACA (or Obamacare) Marketplace is November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022. 

Depending on when you sign up for health care will affect when your coverage kicks on.

You need coverage starting January 1, you need to enroll by December 15.
If you need coverage starting February 1, you need to enroll by January 15.

That means both applying and choosing a plan.

On top of that, some states who operate their own state-run Marketplace have longer or shorter Open Enrollment periods: 

  • If you live in California, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island or Washington state, your Open Enrollment ends January 31.
  • Massachusetts’ Open Enrollment finishes on January 23
  • Idaho and Minnesota ends their respective Open Enrollments on December 15

Important: If you enrolled for health insurance during the COVID-related Special Enrollment period, you may need to re-enroll during Open Enrollment. Check with your insurance provider or at healthcare.gov if that applies to you. 

2. More states and more options are on the table.

Starting this Open Enrollment period, Kentucky, Maine and New Mexico will offer state-run marketplaces for the first time. If you’re living in those states, your ACA marketplace information will transfer to the respective state. 

Our friends at the Kaiser Family Foundation also note that more insurance options will be available. On average, qualified health care plans will double from 46 to 83. Also, the average benchmark plan premium will be about 3% lower than 2021. With the addition of new insurers, the KFF says the competition on pricing and benefits can change which plan is the “benchmark plan,” the second most affordable silver plan. 

That will affect premiums and could lead to big cost savings. That’s good news!

3. Cost savings during COVID-19 funding will continue into 2022.

The Biden Administration continued the marketplace premium subsidies that began under the American Rescue Plan Act. If you qualify for an ARPA subsidy or if your income is projected to be 150% of the Federal Poverty Level (the FPL for 2021 is $12,880 and $21,960 for a family of three), you won’t pay the premium for the benchmark silver plan. 

If your income is over 400% of the FPL, about $51,000 for a single person and close to $88,000 for a family of three, you will only need to contribute up to 8.5% of your income toward the benchmark silver plan. 

These are temporary extensions that will only go through 2022. You also may qualify for a higher tiered plan without having to pay extra in premiums.

While the ARPA subsidies came into effect during the pandemic, they can still help you get major savings on your health insurance. That was the case for our friend Chuck, who got his premium from $1,000 to $1. Yes, $1. 

4. We could see a record number of enrollees.

ACA and state officials already are predicting a record number of enrollees. Approximately 12 million applied for health care insurance — the most since the inception of Obamacare — and more are finding their premiums have significantly decreased. 

Now with the Great Resignation in full tilt, where more than 1 out of 4 workers quit their jobs, more workers are finding viable insurance options on the marketplace that can replace their employer-based plans. 
For Independent Workers who are working for themselves, that means you’re not alone! There are many freelancers, self-employed and other Adventure Entrepreneurs who will be shopping for health insurance, which leads us to…

5. Lots of support is out there!

Shopping for health care can be a real hassle. Even with the improvements of healthcare.gov, it’s still a process to research the available plans to see what works best for your and your loved ones.

Consulting a Health Care Navigator is an excellent option. The Department of Health and Human Services invested $80 million into Navigator grants to help boost outreach and enrollment assistance, so there are plenty of options. To find one closest to you, go (here): https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/

We offer resources and tips to help you get the best benefits. Take our benefits assessment to see what insurance works best for you. And if you want to talk with one of our licensed advisors, hit us up at hello@venteur.co

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