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Can you change your healthcare plan under Obamacare?

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The lowdown...
  • Changing healthcare needs and finding a cheaper premium rate are both great reasons to change an Obamacare plan
  • There are designated open enrollment periods that allow for changes to plan, but missing this time frame might mean waiting if you do not qualify for a special enrollment period break
  • Not all Obamacare plans auto-renew
  • Make sure you report all changes that will require adjustments to your subsidy amount

You may have to stick with the Obamacare plan you have until it is time for open enrollment unless you qualify for special enrollment period privilege. Take your time to check out the marketplace offerings closely to ensure you have the best deal available that suits budget and needs.

There could be many reasons to change Obamacare plans. You may find over the course of the year that your rates have gone up. A competitor to the company that provides your policy might have a better rate for the same if not better coverage. Saving money is one of the biggest reasons people revisit the exchange to browse offerings.

Your healthcare insurance needs may change over the course of an entire calendar year. Your health may improve, get worse, or there may be family additions that need coverage. You may find a need to change the level of care available and it is not offered by your current insurer.

Evolving healthcare needs for individuals and families is a common reason to revisit the exchange and find new sources of coverage. Enter your zip code above to compare private health insurance quotes today!

Open Enrollment Periods

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The open enrollment period with Obamacare is the only time of the year that you can make changes to a different plan, change the current plan type or apply for cost assistance outside of being eligible for a special enrollment period.

The dates of this open enrollment period can change each year, but it is generally held from October to December of the year prior to when you expect coverage to begin.

You must get coverage during this open enrollment period that is considered adequate for ACA law, or you will face a penalty that can equate to hundreds of dollars each year. Coverage must be maintained each calendar year to avoid this penalty.

What happens if you miss open enrollment?

There are certain life events that can happen and make it impossible to meet the open enrollment period when it comes to signing up for an Obamacare plan. There are exceptions that allow people to qualify for special enrollment periods, or exemptions can be had if it is due to financial hardship.

Another option for those that miss the open enrollment deadline is to seek a health insurance policy through the private sector.

You can avoid any sort of penalty for not having and maintaining insurance when missing the sign-up deadline by obtaining a product from a source outside of the marketplace. Make sure it has all the components to be considered ACA compliant.

Special Enrollment Periods

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There are exceptions provided in which you can make changes or enroll in a plan outside of the designated open enrollment period. There are some life circumstances that are unpredictable and unpreventable. A few of these are:

  • Your current health insurer drops your coverage
  • The family situation changes due to birth, adoption, death or divorce
  • Refused by Medicaid or CHIP
  • Any number of personal and financial family hardships

You can investigate a few of the reasons for being able to participate in a special enrollment period here. Make sure you file for an exemption if you are facing a financial hardship and cannot afford health insurance premiums.

Do Obamacare plans auto-renew?

The marketplace in some states does allow for the auto-renew feature when it comes to healthcare plans. You can be guaranteed that the plan will go along as it did this year automatically after January 1 of the new year.

The problem is there are a lot of varying factors that could make you lose, or even owe money by not monitoring what is happening with your plan. Some plans will auto-renew at the same price and subsidies of the previous year. Some will auto-renew with the same plan, same price, but will be missing the subsidy amount. 

Still, other situations might see your family thrown into a similar plan, but the costs and subsidy amounts much different.

Some states do not allow plans to auto-renew at all. This could leave your family without any health insurance and you in jeopardy of financial penalties.

Take the time to check your account and prepare for taking the action necessary to have the plan you want and need.

Reporting Changes

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There are a few household changes that can change the amount of subsidies you get and should be immediately reported. Some changes will be to your immediate benefit, while others will reduce the amount of financial assistance you get to pay for healthcare insurance. If you do not report the changes, you may be forced to pay back any excess amounts out of your income tax return. A few of the changes that should be reported are:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Birth or death
  • Adoption or placing a child up for adoption
  • Disability status
  • Name, social security number, immigration status or tribal affiliation
  • Income
  • Offers of other sources of insurance, such as an employer
  • Loss of Medicaid or CHIP benefits

Simply log into your Marketplace account and report the needed changes right away. This can be done at any time of the year. You do not have to wait for open enrollment or request a special enrollment option.

You can easily change your healthcare plan under Obamacare if you follow the guidelines that are set to make it easier and less chaotic. Check with a healthcare expert to see if you are getting the best deal available for you and your family today!

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