Time to Sign Up for Affordable Coverage for 2022
Submitted by Joy Briggs, Community Health Worker
Open Enrollment for the 2022 Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as ‘Marketplace’ or ‘Exchange’) has officially begun! This is an opportunity for many individuals and families to sign up for health insurance for next year or to change plans. Open enrollment typically runs from Nov 1- Dec 15. This year Open enrollment is open through January 15. Plans selected before Dec 15 and earlier will have coverage that starts on Jan 1st, 2021. Plans selected by Jan 15 will start Feb 1 2021.
Signing up for insurance during this time is important for consumers. Outside of Open Enrollment, most consumers are not eligible to enroll in Marketplace coverage unless they experience a ‘qualifying event’ such as a loss of job-based health insurance. Without health coverage, a serious illness or accident can result in bankruptcy level medical bills. Some consumers also put off their regular checkups and medical needs because they believe they cannot afford it.
Marketplace plans cover treatment for pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, doctor’s visits, inpatient/outpatient hospital stays, prescriptions, mental health care, preventative care and more! Preventative care is covered at no additional cost to the consumer. Some of the preventative care benefits are annual wellness visits, screenings for STD’s, diabetes, hypertension, colorectal, lung and breast cancer.
A major benefit of obtaining coverage through the Marketplace is advanced premium tax credits. Advanced premium tax credits are available to individuals that are not able to get affordable health coverage elsewhere, such as through a job, a family member’s job or a government program. These advanced premium tax credits are based on a consumer’s projected income for the next year, and are applied monthly toward the cost of the premium. For Plan Years 2021 and 2022, the premium tax credit has expanded to make the monthly premium for all eligible consumers more affordable. This expansion also includes individuals whose income had previously been too high to qualify for advanced premium tax credits. Consumers under 150% of the Federal Poverty Level ($19,320 for a family of 1), are eligible for a premium tax credit that completely cover their monthly premium for a silver benchmark plan.
Finding the right insurance plan can be complex and sometimes confusing. To obtain coverage, consumers can visit healthcare.gov to complete the online application, or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. However, if a consumer is not sure where to start, what they would qualify for, or have gone through the application but want to ask a few questions first, Northlakes can help! At Northlakes, we have Certified Application Counselors (CAC’s) who can assist consumers with signing up for Marketplace coverage or determining their options. CAC’s go through training and must pass a certification exam before they can provide assistance.
We currently have CAC’s who work at our Ashland, Iron River, Hayward and Turtle Lake locations. CAC’s can also provide enrollment assistance over the phone. CAC’s go through the application step by step and provide education and answer questions about tough insurance topics. They are happy to explain the differences between premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, copays, and out of pocket max. Meeting with a CAC is free and confidential. Consumers can call any of the NorthLakes locations to set up an in person or phone appointment with a CAC. Now is the time to get covered!
To schedule a meeting with a certified application counselor, please call the NorthLakes’ clinic nearest to you and ask to schedule a free appointment with a certified application counselor.