While you can still enroll in an individual health insurance plan until January 15, if you want your health care plan to be effective by Jan. 1, you have an earlier deadline, Dec. 15, according to Jae Oh, author of Maximize Your Medicare.
Oh encourages everyone to enroll by Dec. 15 because someone’s Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) can change once the new year starts. Along with that, if your employment situation has changed, and therefore your taxable income has changed, those ripple effects can take effect in the new year.
“When you apply for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace, you estimate your expected income for the year,” according to HealthCare.gov. “If you qualify for a premium tax credit based on your estimate, you can use any amount of the credit in advance to lower your premium.”
Oh also recommends people decide to enroll by Dec. 15 because it allows the person the option of changing plans if necessary. If you go to the doctor after your plan has become effective on Jan. 1 and determine your plan needs adjustments based on potential new diagnoses or treatments, you would still have until Jan. 15 to make changes.
“It's just a way for a person to get better flexibility if they enroll first, before December 15th,” said Oh.
This month-long extension of the enrollment period is a function of the Build Back Better agenda. While it isn’t possible to know if this extension will stick around in the future, Oh is optimistic that it will.