Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 1.
It's probably no surprise that health insurance premiums are rising and the number of health insurers offering marketplace plans is falling. Despite these challenges, we'll explain how to get coverage for the lowest price during this year's open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
First, here are important dates you should know:
- November 1, 2016 - is the first day you can enroll, re-enroll, or change a 2017 insurance plan through the health insurance marketplace.
- December 15, 2016 - is the last day to enroll in or change plans for coverage to start January 1, 2017.
- January 1, 2017 - the first day coverage begins for those who enroll or change plans by December 15, 2016.
- January 31, 2017 - the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health plan.
Missing the enrollment period means you can only get qualified health insurance or change plans if you qualify for a special enrollment period.
If you don't have ACA-approved health insurance for more than two months during the year, you'll have to pay a steep tax penalty. For 2016 and 2017 the fee is either 2.5% of your adjusted gross income or $695 per adult (and $347.50 per child), whichever is higher.
8 Tips to Get Health Insurance for the Best Price
Use these tips to shop and compare health plans for you and your family:
Tip #1: Know what coverage you already have
If you already have health insurance, review your policy's summary of benefits and coverage or "SBC." That's the best way to compare key features of health plans, such as copays, deductibles, coinsurance and the estimated cost of common medical events.