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Tips for Shopping on the Individual Marketplace

Shopping for insurance coverage can be intimidating.  Shopping for coverage in an almost entirely new environment has the potential to be downright scary.  If you’ll be shopping for individual coverage on the Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov), here are a few tips to help you through the process:

1)      Start shopping early, and don’t rush to buy.  It’s true that there are glitches with the Marketplace website.  Use this time to learn about insurance, compare plans, and understand rates.  Want to do a top-level comparison of all of the plans available in Michigan, but are having trouble accessing the Marketplace?  Click here for an overview from Michigan’s Department of Insurance and Financial Services.

2)      If you want coverage to begin by 1/1/14, make sure you enroll in a plan by 12/15/13.  Although open enrollment runs all the way through 3/31/14, it’s important to remember that only those who enroll by 12/15/13 will have their coverage (and subsidies) begin on 1/1/14.

3)      Your enrollment date impacts the date on which your coverage begins.  Keep in mind that the date on which you enroll is important because it impacts your plan’s start date.  Enrollments which occur between the 1st and 15th of any month will begin coverage on the 1st day of the following month (e.g., Enrollment: 2/2/14; Coverage begins: 3/1/14).  Enrollments which occur after the 15th of any month begin coverage on the 1st of the second month after the month in which enrollment occurs (e.g., Enrollment: 2/17/14; Coverage begins: 4/1/14).

4)      During the open enrollment period, it’s OK to change plans.  Outside of the open enrollment period, however, the only time during which plan changes will be permitted is in the event of a qualifying life event.

5)      Gather the information needed in order to enroll on the Marketplace.  In order to enroll and claim subsidies, you’ll need to have the following for everyone who’ll be covered:

  1. Social security numbers
  2. Employer and income information (where applicable)
  3. Policy numbers for any plans under which those in the household are covered (where applicable)
  4. A completed Employer Coverage Tool (employers should have submitted this information via a Marketplace Notification Letter to all full- and part-time employees by October 1)

Have questions?  Ask, and learn more, at www.MIHealthAnswers.com!

This post was contributed by Shannon Saksewski (Health Education Program Manager, Detroit Regional Chamber).  Shannon can be contacted at ssaksewski@detroitchamber.com.