Affordable Care Act Health Insurance: How and When to Enroll in 2022

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance: How and When to Enroll in 2022

Health insurance can be expensive in the United States, especially when your company doesn’t provide it. If you’re looking for options during your enrollment period this fall, checking health plans through the Affordable Care Act is a good way to start.

Signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2010, the Affordable Care Act was designed to give more Americans access to affordable health insurance. The law also expands the Medicaid program and supports new methods of delivering medical services, such as ACA Health Homes, which aim to reduce health care costs. More than 35 million Americans are enrolled in coverage related to the Affordable Care Act, President Joe Biden announced on August 2.

We will tell you when open enrollments for health plans under the Affordable Care Act begin and how to register on HealthCare.gov. For further reading, here is the best time to start collecting your social security benefits.

What health insurance plans are available under the Affordable Care Act?

The state you live in determines which health care providers you can use, assuming you are eligible for the Affordable Care Act (see below). For each plan, you should see the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum options. Here is a breakdown of how each plan works.

Bronze: You will pay the lowest monthly premium, but you will pay the most when it comes to paying for treatment. The Bronze plan deductible is generally much higher than the other options, so you will pay more until the deductible is reached.

Silver: This intermediate coverage comes with a moderate monthly premium. It will cost you more than the Bronze option, but the costs for medical care will be lower than the Bronze plan.

Gold: This plan includes a high monthly premium and low costs when you need health care. A low deductible means that the amount of medical bills you pay out of your own pocket will be much less than with the Bronze and Silver plans.

Platinum: The most expensive monthly premium gives you the lowest costs when it comes to medical care. Since the deductible is very low, your plan will start paying your medical bills earlier than any other option.

Deciding which plan to choose depends on your lifestyle, how often you’ll need health care, and what type of medical treatment you need. For example, if you are in good health and expect to use your insurance only for emergencies, you could opt for the Bronze or Silver plan. If you are currently receiving treatment or plan to need regular medical attention, the Gold and Platinum options may be the best options for you.

If you are under 30 or have an inability to afford health insurance exemption, you can qualify for a Catastrophe plan, which has a very low monthly premium and a very high deductible.

Note that your premium is based on your income, so if you have a lower income, your premium may cost less.

piggy bank placed on top of scattered $ 20 bills

Spending more on a premium plan can actually help you save money in the long run.

Sarah Tew / CNET

How to find out if you are eligible for an Affordable Care Act plan

Before you start thinking about which plan to choose, you should first find out if you are actually eligible for the Affordable Care Act. Go to healthcare.gov/screener/ and enter your zip code. Depending on where you live, you may be redirected to a different website.

You will then answer a few questions to see if you qualify for discounted or full-price coverage. Once you get an answer, the next step is to complete an application with the health insurance market or your state market to see plans and pricing.

When can you sign up for a health plan under the Affordable Care Act?

Open membership starts on November 1st and continues until January 15th. Outside of these dates, you may be eligible for a special membership. Here’s how you can qualify:

You have had a life-changing event in the past 60 days: Events include loss of health coverage, a change in family income, having a baby, getting married, divorcing, changing to a new zip code, or if someone in your Marketplace plan has died.

Please note that if you have switched to a new zip code, you must show proof that you have had insurance for at least one day in the past 60 days or that you will lose coverage in the next 60 days. Also, if you’ve lost your job and decide not to accept Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) coverage, you can still sign up for a Marketplace plan.

You are applying for Medicaid or the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP): If you are applying for one of these programs, you can apply for health insurance through the Marketplace at any time.

Other life circumstances that might qualify you:

  • You’re getting out of jail
  • You just became a US citizen
  • You are starting or ending the service in AmeriCorps
  • Obtained membership in a federally recognized tribe or shareholder status of Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation

To see if you are eligible for special membership, follow the steps above at healthcare.gov/screener/. If you are eligible, your health plan will start on the first of the month after enrollment. For example, if you sign up in August, your coverage will begin on September 1st.

Crumpled wrinkled dollar bill

A change in family income may qualify you for special membership.

James Martin / CNET

How to sign up for an Affordable Care Act health plan

Once you’re ready to sign up, whether it’s between November 1st and January 15th or through a special membership, you’ll need to create an account on HealthCare.gov or through your state’s provider. You will then complete the application to view plans and pricing and select the best option for you.

Things you may need while applying:

  • Social security numbers for everyone on your application
  • Employer and income information for all members of your family
  • Current health insurance policy numbers (if applicable)
  • Health insurance information available from the employer
  • Immigration documentation

Again, after you sign up, your plan should start on the first of the month following your sign up date, assuming you have paid your first month premium.

Keep an eye on your insurance card in the mail after enrollment, as well as any other information about the health plan you have chosen.

For more information on health care, here how lack of COVID funding is affecting Americans without health insurance. Also, here’s how to find out if yours health insurance covers online therapy and the best telemedicine services for home medical visits.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical or health advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care practitioner with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goal.

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