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Monthly Health Topics

Top Five Things to Know About Open Enrollment

By Errol Pierre

With the Affordable Care Act, or what people call “Obamacare,” now entering its second year, you might be wondering what’s changed, what’s new, and what to expect for the 2015 coverage period.

This year, many improvements have been made to the NY State of Health website, where you can sign up for health coverage in New York. Here is some key info to help make sure you’re ready:

1. Open Enrollment Dates: The Open Enrollment period for 2015 coverage is November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. During this time, you can enroll or re-enroll for coverage on the NY State of Health website.

2. Auto Enrollment: If you chose a health plan on NY State of Health last year, you may be automatically enrolled in the same plan with the same premium tax credits and other financial assistance, as long as you still qualify. I recommend checking out the NY State of Health website or your specific health plan’s website during Open Enrollment. Make sure your current plan still fits your health needs and see if you qualify for additional financial help.

3. Uninsured Penalty: If you don’t have health coverage during 2015, you may have to pay a fee. That fee is a flat fee or a percentage of your family income, whichever is more. In 2015, the fee is two percent of your income or $325 per adult/$162.50 per child (whichever is greater).

4. Subsidies: Depending on your income, you may be eligible for lower premiums each month and for lower out-of-pocket costs. Check out www.healthcare.gov to find out more about subsidies and the premium tax credit from the IRS.

5. Dental and Vision Benefits: Many health plans on NY State of Health now include dental and vision benefits, as well as medical benefits.

Errol Pierre is Assistant Vice President of Product Management at Healthfirst. For more information on healthcare reform, go to www.healthfirst.org.

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