Shopping for health insurance? Dec. 15 deadline looms

Key deadline approaching for health insurance buyers


If you're one of the millions of Americans who buy your own health insurance, a key deadline is fast approaching.

If you want your coverage to start or continue uninterrupted on Jan. 1, you need to register by Monday, Dec. 15.

Your policy will automatically renew if you already have insurance. However, there could be some changes in your plan, including a possible change in the price.

"That plan may not be the same," said Ann Flood, director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services. Flood says health insurance customers will want to review their plans and do some comparison shopping every year. "There may not be the same tax credits available. The premiums may be different."

"Unlike your auto insurance policy, which may be more consistent every year," she said. "This year and every year on the exchange, there are new opportunities for
cost savings."

This year's enrollment has been much smoother after the rough launch of 2013.

"The website folks at healthcare.gov have been working for a lot longer. They've already gone through this once," said Madiha Tariq, public health manager for the community group ACCESS. "I'm actually very confident that this year the process is going to be a lot smoother."

Get Covered: It's the Law

If you don't have insurance through your employer, Medicare, or Medicaid you are required by law to buy coverage. You can buy insurance yourself, but the insurance marketplace is the only place that offers subsidies that could lower your costs.

"The wonderful thing is that we have a lot of competition in the state of Michigan," said Flood.

She says residents in our state have 175 different plans to consider, offered by 17 companies in the Marketplace.

If you're not covered by Dec. 15, that means your coverage won't start Jan. 1. If you wait to register until Jan. 15, your coverage would begin Feb. 1. If you're not registered by the end of open enrollment Feb. 15, you could face tax penalties in 2016.

Help For You

ACCESS is one of the navigators working in the state of Michigan. The organization says it will have 50 certified navigators to help you, if you need help using the Marketplace. You can learn more about ACCESS, its navigators, and opportunities to enroll in an insurance policy that works for you.

The social service organization is having a special event in Detroit on Saturday, Dec. 13 to help anyone who has questions about buying their coverage. That event is at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch at 5201 Woodward Avenue from 12 to 5 p.m.

To find out about the regular hours at ACCESS, follow this link: www.accesscommunity.org.

Also, Enroll America is working with ACCESS and other groups to help you get enrolled. You can learn more at www.getcoveredAmerica.org.

And here's the marketplace website: www.healthcare.gov.

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