What do you need to sign up for Obamacare?
Signing up for Obamacare has several possible routes, they include the federal health insurance marketplace at Healthcare.gov and the state government exchanges in the District of Columbia and the sixteen states that have established health insurance marketplaces. Start comparing health insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!
Compare Before Buying
At any sign-up location, it is important for consumers to comparison shop for the best price and value. Price alone is not enough; one must try to get the best value and services that meet the needs of the individual or family. Comparison shopping provides an ideal method for finding the best value in health insurance coverage.
The formal sign up begins with an intake form that asks basic information such as location and phone information and income information. The convenience of online sign-up includes telephone assistance to explain any part of the process and the terms of the health care plans. For those that do not qualify for health insurance plans, the intake procedure automatically refers the applicants for consideration under CHIPs and Medicaid.
Open Enrollment Sign-Ups
The 2016 Open Enrollment period runs from November 1, 2015, to January 31, 2016. This is the period established for sign-ups for health insurance plans that take effect in 2016. One needs only basic information about location, address, and estimated annual income to get the process started. The insurance providers developed coverage, plans, prices, terms and premiums based on local areas.
Life events extend the sign-up period
Persons who experience life events can have up to 60 days to sign up for Obamacare coverage. The life events include the birth of a child, moving to a different state, a dependent’s loss of insurance, and marriage.
No Open Period for Lowest Income
Applicants whose income fall below 136 percent of the area poverty line figure, may not qualify for a marketplace health plan. For applicants with too little income top receive subsidies, they can qualify for coverage under the ACA Medicaid expansion.
They can be covered as adults in Medicaid, and as dependent children in the CHIPS program.
People living below the poverty lines and their dependent children do not have an open enrollment period. They can enroll at any time by going to healthcare.gov or the state exchange in the area in which they live. There are telephone assistance lines for those who need help in getting coverage through Medicaid or the Child Health Insurance Program.
Sign up at Healthcare.gov
Most Americans can sign up online at the federal marketplace at healthcare.gov. The plans have metal classifications named by the following groups and insurance values, the percentage of costs covered by insurance and by the consumer.
- Platinum – highest premiums and the greatest amount of insurance coverage.
- Gold- high premiums second highest level of insurance coverage at about 80 percent.
- Silver- various plans vary between 70-75 percent insurance coverage to consumer expense.
- Bronze- the lowest rate of coverage( sixty percent or higher) and highest subsidy, lowest monthly premiums.
The State Exchanges
Individuals can sign up at a State health insurance exchange. In the District of Columbia and the states which authorized exchanges, residents can search for health insurance coverage on their local exchanges. Those that do not qualify for health plans because of low income ca often get no-cost coverage through Medicaid and for children in the Child Health Insurance Program.
The employer mandate requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer health insurance. The requirements are that by 2016:
- all businesses with 50 or more full-time employees
- must offer coverage to 95 percent of employees
- dependents up to age 26
The employer mandate does not affect the deductibility of employer expenses for contributions to employee health care programs. These expenses are presumably ordinary business expenses and treated like other business personnel costs.
The Small Business Incentives
The ACA provides tax credits as small business incentives for employers with 25 or fewer employees, and that average salaries are less than $50,000 per year. The Small Business Healthcare Options Program or SHOP offers tax incentives to encourage small businesses to cover employees. Tax incentives can be used at any time and for up to two years; owners can hold them for use on taxation during a year with substantial taxable income.
Small Business Owners
Owners of a small business can get insurance through their company sponsored plans. They can cover themselves if there is at least one other covered employee not related by blood or marriage to the owner. Before enactment of the ACA, business owners had approximately the same degree of uninsured versus insured persons as the general population. The business owner figure was about 25 percent, and the general ratio among small business employees was about 27 percent. The ACA does not permit individual coverage of a business owner except through individual coverage on the healthcare exchanges.
Comparison Shopping to Save
When searching for health insurance on healthcare.gov or a state exchange, it is important to use comparison shopping to find the best price and greatest values. When deciding whether Obamacare or some other type of health insurance is best, one should identify health service needs and the insurance plans the meet them. Listing prices and premiums alone will not reveal the best value and the best match for individual and family needs. There are other types of health plans outside of Obamacare that will be sufficient to avoid the mandate and penalty. Start comparing health insurance rates now by entering your zip code in our FREE tool below!