Everything freelancers need to know for open enrollment 2020


Open enrollment is in full swing and we’ve got everything you need to know in our handy guide to open enrollment 2020. If you’re feeling unprepared, we have some tips to keep you on track.

First things first: when is open enrollment 2020? Open enrollment for 2020 plans will begin November 1, 2019 and runs through December 15, 2019. During this period (and thanks to the Affordable Care Act), US citizens can enroll in a health plan through the marketplace.

What you’ll need for open enrollment

There is some pertinent information you’ll want to have on hand as your browse plans and potentially enroll in a plan that’s the right fit for you and your family. Keep these items nearby as you begin the healthcare hunt:

  • Social security numbers for all family members that will be covered by a plan
  • Tax information
  • Birth dates and other relevant information for your spouse and any dependents you want covered under your plan
  • A list of health care needs (do you or a family member have a chronic disease? Are you in need of certain medications?)
  • Your budget for health care (a rough idea of how much you can afford in monthly premiums and potentially an idea of desirable deductible and max out-of-pocket costs)This information will make it easier for you to navigate open enrollment and have success in finding a plan that works for you and your family.

What happens if I miss open enrollment? Can I still get a plan?

The answer to this depends. If you miss open enrollment and you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, you are at risk to be uninsured for 2020. One option may be to sign up for Medicaid if you qualify. Medicaid offers low-cost or sometimes free care based on family size and income. It is meant to provide health coverage for individuals with low-income or who are pregnant, disabled, or elderly. Requirements vary by state, so you’ll need to do your homework to see if you qualify.

On the other hand, qualifying for a special enrollment period could present an additional opportunity to obtain health care coverage. This is a special enrollment period outside of the traditional enrollment window where certain individuals who have experienced one among a set of circumstances can apply for health insurance. These qualifying life events include:

  • Loss of health coverage—you may lose existing coverage, whether it’s job-based, individual, a student plan, or loss of eligibility for another plan.
  • Changes in household—you get married or divorced, have a child, or experience a death in the family.
  • Changes in residence—you move to a different location or to a different type of housing.
  • Other qualifying events—you experience a change in income, leave incarceration, become a citizen, or have some other major changes that may qualify.

There are four categories of qualifying life events so you will have to check and see if you fall into one of these buckets.

How is open enrollment different for freelancers?

It’s not, technically. However, we get that unique circumstances can make navigating health insurance especially tough for freelancers. For example, if you have recently left a job to start your own business, you may be able to get coverage under COBRA (short for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). Rather than losing group benefits, you can opt to stay on your company plan and pay out of pocket for this coverage. The con here is that COBRA is usually more expensive than finding an alternative plan.

If you recently had a change in life circumstances, you’ll definitely want to see if you qualify for a special enrollment period. You may also want to sketch out a budget for the upcoming year that can help you get a handle on potential health care costs. Make a list of all of the medications you anticipate needing additional health needs for managing existing conditions, and some buffer room for accidents. This will give you a good idea of the type of coverage you need and help you hone in on plans that are right for you. Depending on how much coverage you need and how much you are willing to leave to chance, you may want to consider one of the following metal tiers:

Open enrollment is a lot of pressure. Are there other options?

Yes! If you are self-employed and looking for affordable, comprehensive health insurance, you may want to consider the Trailblazer or Pathfinder plan offered through Decent. If the short open enrollment period is freaking you out, you’ll be happy to know that you can enroll in one of these plans 365 days a year. Yep! Our open enrollment runs year-round.

If you think that’s rad, wait until you hear about our free primary care benefit. Here’s how it works: you go to your primary care doctor, whenever you want, as often as you want, for whatever you want. For free. We think the doctor-patient relationship is super important, so we make it easy to see your doctor whenever you need it, and you pay $0.

These plans are designed especially for freelancers and other self-employed people. We get that you’re busy and that life gets crazy. We don’t want to limit you to a short open enrollment window and we don’t want you to have to pay exorbitant fees to meet with your doctor when you’re sick (or just trying not to get sick). If you’re overwhelmed with traditional open enrollment or if you’re just looking for a change (and maybe some savings) get your free quote today. What do you have to lose?

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