2020 Open Enrollment: 10 Steps to Prepare

The 2020 open enrollment period is coming up, and this process can daunting. You’ve been wandering the internet, trying to find reliable resources about open enrollment for your next health insurance package, bogged down by conflicting health coverage information. Sound familiar? 

Not to worry. While the health insurance exchange and enrollment process can be confusing, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you’re ready for the open enrollment deadline for your 2021 health coverage.

Create a List

Create/find a checklist of all that you’ll need (cards, documents, etc.) for your health plan application before searching for health coverage. While you may think that you can hold all of the necessary details of Medicare, Medicaid, and life events in your head, in reality, applying for health insurance is a process, and it takes just a moment to stay organized. 

Not sure what you need? Try using the Marketplace checklist to ensure that your health plan application is good to go.

Gather Materials

Gather everything you need before you sit down to apply or renew your health coverage. You’ll need information regarding income, current health coverage, qualifying life events, and household information to answer all of the questions. 

Few things are more stressful than struggling to complete a healthcare application while tracking down information for the year’s open enrollment period. Save yourself the time, energy, and headaches by getting everything together all at once.

Review Your 2019 Coverage

If you already have 2020 Marketplace coverage, review your current plan to ensure that your health plan information is still correct and relevant. If life events have changed (such as your household/income) or if you spot an error, update the application so that you can take advantage of new coverage options and big savings, such as a premium tax credit. 

Don’t forget to update any qualifying life events and enrollees so that you and your loved ones are secure.

Set Deadline Reminders

Go ahead and set a deadline reminder for the Open Enrollment period before getting started so that you apply within the open enrollment period. While the open enrollment dates are fresh in your mind now, “I’ll remember” are famous last words in the world of administrative tasks. 

Should you forget to change plans through the health insurance exchange at healthcare.gov before the deadline, you may be auto-enrolled in the same health insurance exchange plan. 

This automated health plan renewal isn’t always optimal if crucial life events have changed. Be sure to evaluate all of your health coverage options, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and other health insurance plans, and mark your calendar so that you don’t miss a health coverage plan that’s better suited for you in the coming year.

Scan the Health Insurance Marketplace

Take some time to scan the Health Insurance Marketplace® before you dive in to change plans. Take just a quick look at your coverage options, such as individual health insurance, children’s health insurance programs, short-term health plans, insurance companies available through the health insurance exchange. 

It’s worth it to familiarize or re-familiarize yourself with the coverage options and navigation of the health insurance marketplace, so you’re ready to begin the process with confidence. As you’re becoming reacquainted with the health insurance marketplace, this is also a good time to contact your medical providers to double-check their health plan network!

Save Money

Financial assistance is often available to help individuals and families afford their health insurance plans. In 2015, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that workers’ contributions to their family’s health-insurance monthly premiums have gone up 83% over a decade. 

Aside from premiums, copay, coinsurance, deductible, total out-of-pocket costs, and out-of-network health coverage are factors to consider when optimizing your health insurance plan. Adjusting your 401(k) contributions and opening a flexible spending account (FSA) or a health savings account (HSA) can offset some costs.

Estimate Your 2021 Income

Remember that this income estimation is not based on last year’s income but on what you can reasonably expect to be earning in 2021. Your household’s adjusted gross income (updated for any anticipated changes) is a good baseline. Your health insurance coverage options are based on these estimations. You should include yourself, your spouse (if married), and anyone claimed as a dependent on your taxes (regardless of whether they need coverage) to take everyone in your family into account when applying for health coverage. 

Write Down Your Priorities

Make a list of your options and what you need from your healthcare. Selecting the best health insurance plan can feel overwhelming, as you will be using this plan for the next year. Fortunately, your list of priorities can help.

With a little organization of needs and options into a tangible list, this process can be tackled without unnecessary stress. A few things to consider are doctor visit frequency, expected shifts in required health care, number of dependents, prescription drugs, monthly premiums, pre existing conditions, and any qualifying life events. 

Consider Vision and Dental Benefits

You’ll find that vision and dental health coverage is an essential part of your health insurance plan. If it isn’t already included, look into supplemental health coverage options or you may want to change plans to broaden your coverage options. Your coverage options aspects will inform the kind of healthcare plan you’ll need.

Prepare for Unforeseen Circumstances

Last but not least, take a look at your other coverage options, such as life insurance, disability insurance, accidental death, and dismemberment insurance. While no one likes to think about these possibilities, you’ll find yourself at ease knowing that you’ve ironed out these crucial details. 

Though the Marketplace is known for health coverage, these are crucial aspects to you and your family’s wellbeing, and you’ll do well to consider these features in addition to your core health insurance package.

When Is 2020 Open Enrollment?

National 2020 health coverage Open Enrollment through the health insurance marketplace extends from Sunday, November 1, 2020, through Tuesday, December 15, 2020.  On the first day of open enrollment, November 1, 2020, you can visit HealthCare.gov, complete a health coverage application, and enroll for a 2021 health plan through the health insurance exchange. You may also find health insurance options through your state’s exchange website.

After December 15, 2020, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to a qualifying life event. Check to see if your state is among those with fully state-run programs and separate open enrollment periods.