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ACA plan buyers who need coverage effective Jan. 1 should heed Dec. 15 enrollment deadline

Healthinsurance.org provides 3 tips for consumers as the open enrollment period enters final month


Minneapolis, MN – Today healthinsurance.org reminded consumers that in most states, Dec. 15 is the deadline for purchasing ACA-compliant health insurance if they want coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2024.

Healthinsurance.org also offered additional tips for people during the final month of open enrollment in Affordable Care Act plans, also known as Obamacare.

It has been a remarkably busy season so far, with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reporting a significant increase in the number of new enrollees year over year. During the first week of open enrollment – which started Nov. 1 – an estimated 1.6 million people signed up for a plan at HealthCare.gov, including 301,000 first-time buyers. That enrollment marks a 50% increase over last year.

Consumers who have not enrolled yet should keep the following tips in mind:

Don’t miss the deadline to start the new year with coverage

If you want coverage in effect on Jan. 1, 2024, you would need to enroll in or change your health insurance plan by Dec. 15, 2023, in most states. You also need to pay your first premium by the due date specified during the application process.

“People have until Jan. 15 in most states to buy a plan during open enrollment, but waiting that long could result in a gap in their insurance coverage,” said Louise Norris, a health policy analyst for healthinsurance.org. “Also, they could end up with coverage under two different plans in 2024 if their existing plan auto-renews and then they select a different plan after Dec. 15. The auto-renewed plan would be in effect for January, and the new plan – with a new deductible and out-of-pocket exposure – would start in February.”

Check open enrollment deadlines in each state.

Don’t get confused by $0 copays or $0 deductibles

Some health insurers have begun offering plans with $0 copays for primary care visits. But – and this is a big caveat – that only applies to virtual care in some cases.

“You don’t want to get caught by surprise. If you see a plan with $0 copays for virtual visits, make sure you know what you’ll pay for an in-person visit,” said Jenny Chumbley Hogue, a health policy analyst for healthinsurance.org. “You may be responsible for a copay, or the cost of the visit will be applied to the deductible. ”

Shoppers may also see plans with $0 deductibles, and while that may seem appealing, a buyer should consider all plan details. “When comparison shopping, you should look at a plan’s total out-of-pocket limit and the copays or coinsurance that will have to be paid for various types of medical care,” Chumbley Hogue said.

“A plan with a $0 deductible may seem like a great option compared with higher-deductible plans, but that might not be the case once you consider other out-of-pocket costs in the plan design.”

Don’t be surprised by a new consent requirement

A new federal rule requires agents and brokers in most states to document that a consumer has consented to an agent or broker’s assistance with enrollment. The rule applies to agents and brokers assisting with enrollments in states that use HealthCare.gov.

So, don’t be surprised if you are asked for consent via audio recording or written document.

Ultimately, with time of the essence during this enrollment period, consumers shouldn’t delay exploring their ACA coverage options.

“It’s always a good idea to give yourself some time in case you want to ask questions,” Norris said. “Free help is available from agents/brokers and Navigators.”

Find more detailed information about open enrollment in healthinsurance.org’s ACA Open Enrollment 2024 Guide.

Healthinsurance.org provides online resources for consumers about individual and family health insurance. Healthinsurance.org, owned by Healthinsurance.org, LLC, has been providing consumer information about health insurance and health reform for over 25 years.


Amy Fletcher Faircloth [email protected]


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