I have been involved with some of the Obamacare (Affordable Care Act (ACA)) On Marketplace and Off Marketplace enrollments during the Open Enrollment Period. This year the enrollment period goes through March 31st for 2014. I have seen a few issues with the Healthcare.gov website that have caused clients not to be able to finish the enrollment process. There are a few items that are frustrating in the processing of applications on the Healthcare.gov.
When should you try to obtain health coverage through Healthcare.gov? The most important reason is to take advantage of a government subsidy and cost sharing. The subsidy is available based on your families income. I have run across a few clients that have been able to get enough subsidy to purchase a Silver plan with a $0.07/mo premium. The silver plans will offer cost sharing and this will reduce your deductible and out of pocket maximums in some cases. You should always take a look at the Silver plans to see if they are offering you a better deal than the Gold or Platinum plan. I have found the government “See Plans” has a calculator that works very well without entering any personal data to review plans and estimate your subsidy.
One additional thing to really look at is the network of doctors on the plans you are considering. Some carriers have made some changes to their network (PPO or HMO) that you may find that your doctor is not in network. This is a good thing to check with your agent before you sign up. The challenge is if you do not check you may be surprised to have a plan without your doctor for the rest of the calendar year.
If you do not need a policy that can pass state to state, you can buy insurance off of the exchange just like individuals have done in the past, before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The plan off of the exchange can offer different products and different doctors networks for some carriers. If you do not get a subsidy then, you are an ideal candidate for an off of the exchange plan. The process is simpler in the respect of you can sign up direct through the carrier with the help of an independent agent. This take the Healthcare.gov out of the equation and issues that happen on the government site.
The one thing to know is that there are many options available on the Marketplace and they can be confusing to understand as you can be overwhelmed with details. The one thing to note is you can use an Agent or Broker to help you enroll and ask questions about the options and know what your are signing up for on or off the Marketplace/Exchange. This is plan you will have for the balance of the year. There is no cost to work with an agent of broker, they will be your point of contact for questions or issues you may have on the plans.