Overview of ACA Open Enrollment 2024
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment for 2024 is here. Running from November 1, 2023, through January 15, 2024, open enrollment allows individuals and families to either sign up for new health insurance plans or make changes to their existing ones.
Enrollment can be conveniently done online through HealthCare.gov or state-specific Marketplaces, by phone, or with the help of agents or brokers.
Importance of Early Enrollment
Enrolling as early as possible, especially before the holiday season, is highly recommended to avoid last-minute rushes and ensure your coverage starts by January 1, 2024. Keep in mind that if you enroll after December 15, 2023, your coverage will begin on February 1, 2024, instead of January 1.
Also, please note that due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day falling on January 15, 2024, the final deadline for enrollment will likely be extended to midnight on January 16, 2024.
Learn more about Open Enrollment 2024.
Enrollment Trends and Subsidies
In 2023, ACA enrollments surged to nearly 16.4 million, more than double the figure from the first enrollment in 2014. A significant driver of this increase is the availability of subsidies under Obamacare. These include:
- Premium Tax Credit: Reduces the monthly premium of health insurance plans.
- Cost-Sharing Reductions: Lowers out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, available for those enrolled in silver category plans.
Importantly tax credits have been expanded to all income levels in 2024. In fact, thanks in part to the Inflation Reduction Act, 4 of 5 HealthCare.gov enrollees will be able to find coverage for next year for $10 or less per month. Meanwhile cost-sharing reductions and even Medicaid and CHIP, while still being based on income, are expanded to many as well!
Check out more about saving on ObamaCare for 2024.
Understanding Health Insurance Costs
Health insurance costs are comprised of deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Deductibles are the initial amount paid before the insurance plan starts covering costs, while copayments and coinsurance are payments made for each medical service or visit. Eligibility for subsidies is determined post-application and is dependent on the expected income of all household members who file a federal tax return.
Options for Low-Income Individuals
Individuals with lower income might be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Reporting any changes in income is crucial, as it directly affects the subsidy amount and can lead to repayments at tax time if income increases are not reported.
Choosing the Right ACA Plan
The ACA Marketplace categorizes plans into bronze, silver, gold, and platinum, each with varying costs and benefits but offering essential services like preventive care and prescription drug benefits. The choice of plan should be based on the anticipated level of healthcare services needed, whether current healthcare providers are included in the plan’s network, and the plan’s coverage for current medications.
Factors to Consider
When selecting a plan, it’s important to consider:
- Level of care needed by your household.
- Whether your current primary care doctor or medical specialists are included in the plan’s network.
- If your current medications are covered under the plan’s prescription drug benefits.
- Any changes in the plan’s offerings, including premiums and benefits for the upcoming year.
Assistance in Choosing a Plan
For those who need assistance in selecting the right ACA plan, resources are available at HealthCare.gov, through call centers, or local assisters, brokers, or agents. It’s important to note that for cost-reduction subsidies, enrollment in a silver category plan is mandatory.
The Bottom Line
The ACA’s 2024 open enrollment period offers a critical opportunity for individuals to secure health insurance coverage or update their existing plans. With the availability of subsidies and various plan options, it’s essential to review your needs, assess the available options, and make an informed choice for your health coverage in 2024.
Keep in mind you can shop for plans at any time. You don’t have to wait until you are ready to enroll to look and see if you qualify for assistance!