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Open Enrollment 101

For many Floridians, selecting a health insurance plan seems more complicated than ever. With Open Enrollment right around the corner, it’s important to be prepared. The team at Florida Health Choices has compiled useful information to help families, individuals, and licensed professionals better understand their health insurance options.

What is Open Enrollment? Open enrollment is the once-a-year period when Floridians are given the opportunity to shop and enroll in health care coverage. This year’s open enrollment begins November 1, 2015, and ends January 31, 2016. If you have insurance through your employer, the open enrollment period can vary.

Why Do I Need to Shop for Health Insurance During this Time? If you do not take advantage of open enrollment, you cannot enroll in health care coverage until the following year’s open enrollment period. If you can afford to buy coverage and choose not to, there may be consequences such as tax penalties which increase every year. After February 15, 2016, you may enroll in a 2016 insurance plan only if you experience a life event that qualifies you for a Special Enrollment Period. You may qualify for a special enrollment period 60 days following certain life events such as marriage, birth of a child, or loss of other health coverage.

Where Can I Shop for Health Insurance? If coverage through your employer is not an option, you have the opportunity to shop on both the federally facilitated exchange and private exchanges. Tax subsidies are available through the federal exchange A private exchange like Florida Health Choices can help you determine if you qualify for subsidies. If you don’t, our team is available to help you shop and compare plans with a variety of rates and provider networks.

What if I’m Only Looking for Coverage for My Child? If you have employer-based coverage and are looking for additional coverage for a child, a family plan through your employer can be less costly than other options. If that option is not available, check to see if your children qualify for cost assistance through a public program like Medicaid or Florida KidCare, which is determined by income and household size.

However – and this is important –we encourage you to compare the plan rates offered by the public program to the rates available through a private exchange. In some cases, the cost of comparable coverage in a private exchange is less than what may be available through a public program. Additionally, the plan options through a private exchange may have more extensive provider networks.

If this sounds daunting – don’t worry. Nobody should have to navigate health insurance alone, and that’s why Florida Health Choices is here to help. We operate a private exchange created by the Florida Legislature specifically to help Floridians consider all of the health insurance options available to them. You can shop online anonymously and use free decision-making tools to help compare plans and choose what works best for you and your family’s needs.

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