Get ready for 2015 health care coverage

Beginning Nov. 15, 2014, open enrollment for individual health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act will begin.

Beginning Nov. 15, 2014, open enrollment for individual health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act will begin. During open enrollment, those who didn’t sign up previously can enroll and those who are currently covered can renew or change policies.

If you are currently enrolled in an individual health care plan under the Affordable Care Act, you will receive two important notices about your coverage. One, from your health insurance company, will explain any changes to premiums and benefits for 2015. The other notice will come from the Health Insurance Marketplace with important deadlines and information about open enrollment.

According to officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance marketplace, if you are already enrolled you will be automatically re-enrolled for your current plan.

However, Shelley Gast, system vice president, Managed Care and Payor Strategy, Norton Healthcare, advises not to put your health insurance on autopilot. Instead, she recommends visiting the federal marketplace HealthCare.gov, which Indiana uses, or Kynect.KY.gov, Kentucky’s health insurance marketplace, to comparison-shop for the best plan available for your needs.

“It’s especially important to review your current health plan and other plans available if you received federal tax credits that lowered your monthly premiums,” Gast said.

If you choose to let your plan auto-renew, you’ll likely be assigned the same tax credit you received in 2014. If your income has increased, your credit could be too large, meaning you may end up owing the government money at tax time. By re-enrolling and updating income details, you will be able to help make sure your tax credit is properly adjusted.

In addition, health insurance premiums are expected to change dramatically in 2015. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute reported that individual insurance premiums are expected to increase by an average of about 6 percent, but that amount can vary.

While you may choose to keep the plan you had in 2014 because of in-network doctors and hospitals, it is important to make an informed decision during open enrollment.

Five steps to stay covered in 2015:

  1. Review your current plan’s 2015 health coverage and costs.
  2. Update your health insurance application.
  3. Compare the health plans available to you in 2015.
  4. Choose the plan that best meets your needs.
  5. Enroll in the health plan you want for 2015 coverage by Dec. 15, 2014.

Common questions about open enrollment:

When is open enrollment?

Open enrollment runs from Nov. 15, 2014, to Feb. 15, 2015. The dates are the same for states that use the federal marketplace exchanges and states like Kentucky that have their own marketplaces.

How soon can coverage begin?

If you want your coverage to start Jan. 1, 2015, you must enroll by Dec. 15, 2014. While federal officials say they expect the federal marketplace to operate more smoothly this time than during its initial launch last year, signing up earlier rather than later is best.

What is the penalty for failing to have insurance coverage?

Under Affordable Care Act rules, the penalty for being uninsured in 2015 rises to $325 per adult, or 2 percent of your yearly income, whichever is greater.


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