Consumers can now sign up for 2015 health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov, the call center, or in-person assistance. With more issuers offering coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace this year, the consumers will find more options for themselves and their families.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is a simpler way to purchase health insurance for Americans and their families. Consumers can go online to find and compare options, see if they qualify for lower costs, and select coverage that best meets their needs and budget. About 85 percent of those who signed up last year through the Marketplace received financial assistance. Coverage begins as early as Jan. 1, 2015, for people enrolling by Dec. 15, 2014.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has worked to improve the consumer experience by making the application process easier. A window-shopping tool allows consumers to answer a few simple questions, such as location and family size, in order to compare plans and get an estimate on how much financial assistance they may qualify for, without needing a log-in or submitting an application.
For most consumers who are renewing coverage, up to 90 percent of their application will be pre-filled based on last year’s application. And a new streamlined application reduces the number of screens to 16 with fewer clicks to navigate through the questions for most consumers signing up for the first time. Last year, consumers went through 76 screens to sign up for coverage. This year, along with a simpler, faster application, consumers can shop and enroll on a smartphone, tablet, computer, or by calling the call center or with in-person assistance.
Open Enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace began Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 15, 2015. Consumers should visit HealthCare.gov to review and compare health plan options and find out if they are eligible for financial assistance, which can help pay monthly premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs when receiving services. All consumers shopping for health insurance coverage for 2015 – even those who currently have coverage through the Marketplace – should enroll or re-enroll by Dec. 15 in order to have coverage effective on Jan. 1, 2015.
A number of different resources are available to help consumers find coverage. They can get more information through HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov. Consumers can find local help at Localhelp.healthcare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 800.318.2596. TTY users should call 855.889.4325. Assistance is available in 150 languages. The call is free.
The Marketplace includes a Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP), designed to give small businesses new health insurance options and a simpler way to cover their employees. The SHOP is available to small employers with 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees. The SHOP Marketplace will allow qualifying employers to find, compare, purchase and enroll in 2015 SHOP health and dental coverage entirely online through HealthCare.gov. Employees will be able to view offers of insurance from their employer and enroll online through HealthCare.gov. Small businesses and their employees can get help from the toll-free SHOP Marketplace call center at 800.706.7893 or for TTY, call 711. The hours are Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.
To sign up for individual and family coverage, visit healthcare.gov/apply-and-enroll/. To sign up for small business coverage, visit healthcare.gov/small-businesses/. For more information about Health Insurance Marketplaces, visit healthcare.gov/marketplace.