BOZEMAN — We’re not through 2021 yet, but for so many people it’s already time to make a decision about health insurance coverage for 2022.
“We’re doing pretty well in Montana," said Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, State Auditor Troy Downing. "We’re probably somewhere in the three to five percent uninsured right now.”
But to make sure you’re not uninsured next year, your enrollment period could be now.
“To have coverage on January 1st, your open enrollment period is from the 1st of November until the 15th of December, but that’s just for the marketplace," said Downing. "That’s for ACA plans, but there’s an option for different employers or different plans of having different enrollment periods.”
Meaning if you choose a federal-regulated plan like the Affordable Care Act, we are currently in the enrollment period, and if you choose a state-regulated plan or one through your employer, the specific enrollment dates vary.
"It’s important to understand this, that you may be locked out and need to look for an alternative to a marketplace plan if you don’t hit that open enrollment period and you don’t have a qualifying change in status,” Downing said.
A qualifying change in status after the enrollment period would be a significant life change like a marriage, a divorce, your income falling under the qualifying amount, or aging out of your parent’s coverage.
“It’s important for, you know, most Montanans," said Downing. "It’s important for most Americans. It’s important for most humans to have some kind of coverage if something does go wrong.”
The cost of an emergency trip to the hospital can differ greatly for someone who has insurance coverage versus someone who does not - but health insurance is NOT a legal requirement.
“It was originally under the Affordable Care Act when it was first passed," said Downing. "When the original mandate was removed, that got rid of that requirement.”
The only legal requirement for health insurance is that employers with more than 50 employees have to offer a plan for their employees or they get a hefty fine.