Q: How long will it take me to enroll in the exchange? What documentation do I need?
A: If this is your first time enrolling, you should set aside at least 30 to 60 minutes to complete the process, although you can log out and come back later if you aren’t able to finish it all at once. If you’re already enrolled in a plan through the exchange and just want to make changes to your coverage for 2016, the process will be faster – although you’ll still want to set aside time to check the covered drug list (formulary) and provider network list for the plans you’re considering. Whether you’re enrolling for the first time or renewing coverage, you also have the option to enroll in person, over the phone, or by mailing in a paper application.
Regardless of how you enroll, here’s what you’ll need to have available:
- Names, address, social security numbers, birthdays, citizenship status and email address.
- Household size and income (A pay stub, W-2 or 2014 tax return will help make this info as precise as possible.)
- Coverage details and price for any employer-sponsored plan available to you or anyone in your household
- The application will ask about tobacco use, although no health questions will be asked. (Pre-2014 individual health insurance applications included many questions about medical history.)
- Your doctors’ names and zip codes, so you can check the networks in your area and make sure your doctors are included
- Payment information (bank account or credit card) to submit the first month’s premium either to the exchange or directly to the carrier once you’ve enrolled
- You can also call the toll-free Obamacare hotline (1-800-987-6810) on healthinsurance.org to talk with a broker or agent certified to sell exchange plans in your state.
January 1 is the first available effective date for coverage, and applies to all applications submitted between November 1 and December 15. You’ll have plenty of time to get an application submitted for a January 1 effective date, but it’s best to not wait until the last minute.