We have heard that Obama Care will provide us with an opportunity to get an insurance plan at any time we wish, but this is hardly the case. This new Health Care Bill comes with an initial open enrollment period during which people can select the health plan they want and after that there will only be small time frames each year for citizens to get new policies.
Initial Enrollment Period
The initial enrollment period will last from October 1st, 2013 to March 31st, 2014. During this time you are able to enroll in a health plan regardless of what your current health condition is. If you choose your healthcare policy before the end of the year, then your new coverage will enter into effect starting with January 1st, 2014.
Even though it is possible for you to wait until the March 31st deadline in order to get your new health plan, it is not yet certain how the process will be handled by insurance carriers since they will apparently only be able to change the rates on their policies on January 1st of every year. It is likely that you will have coverage
beginning with the start of the year even though you enroll at a later date and will be charged retroactively, although this is not certain.
2015 and Beyond Enrollment Periods
After the initial enrollment period is finished, the timeframes for new enrollments will be much smaller in subsequent years. They will take place between October 15th and December 7th of each year, thus allowing only a 53-day window during which you can make changes to your health plan or switch carriers. Any modification will enter into effect starting with January 1st of next year
Obama Care has effectively transformed premiums for healthcare into annual premiums that are paid on a monthly basis. Some people will benefit from subsidies in the form of upfront tax credits that are applied directly to the premiums. You can find out if you can apply for a subsidy and how much it would be by using this calculator.
Why Enrollment has Limited Time Frames
The main reason why the new Health Care Bill comes with such small timeframes is to keep premiums at a reasonable level. This way, everybody has to pay for health insurance at all times, not just when they need it and healthy people end up paying for the claims made by those with health problems.
There will be special opportunities for people to make changes to their health plans. These include marriages, divorces, new babies, policy cancellations etc. Even so, the majority of all of the business will be conducted within that small 53-day window. This has a high chance of overwhelming the insurance carriers as they will deal with a large number of enrollments and terminations in a short amount of time.