How to Sign up for ACA Health Insurance for 2020

If you don’t have access to insurance through your employer, parent, or spouse, it’s time to choose a plan for next year. The open recruitment to the individual health insurance market began on November 1 and will run until December 15, 2019.

Plans purchased during this period are effective January 1, 2020. If you do not receive the plan during open enrollment, you will need to complete the enrollment qualification period during 2019 to get coverage or buy a short-term plan.

Here’s what you need to know if you are a new applicant or returning to the personal insurance market.

Open registration is shorter than before

The Trump administration has cut the amount of time people must sign up for insurance to 45 days this year (same as last year, but shorter than previous years). However, as each state manages its own individual market exchange, some have extended the registration period. Links to states that have their own exchanges are listed here .

Incomplete insurance tax penalty goes away

The Trump administration has abolished tax penalties imposed on people without ” qualifying ” coverage. In 2017, the tax was above 2.5 percent of your household income or $ 695 per adult (2018 revised figures not yet released). But this tax will be canceled for the 2019 calendar year, which will be reflected in the taxes you file in 2020. Technically, the individual mandate is still valid, although it will no longer be fined. Some states still have individual insurance requirements that may require you to pay state taxes on your 2019 plan if you are not insured. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, and the District of Columbia currently hold mandates.

You should still shop on the exchanges

You must still shop on your state’s Affordable Care Act exchange or federal website to compare prices . If you are already registered and do nothing by the deadline, you will be re-enrolled . If this plan no longer exists, you will be taken to the most similar plan . Ideally, though, you should look for the best plan for yourself.

You can qualify for a subsidy

ACA offers subsidies to people whose income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level to keep pace with rising insurance premiums. Last year, 87% of applicants were eligible for a subsidy . The upper income limit for subsidies for 2020 is $ 49,960 per person and $ 103,000 for a family of four. If your income is below this threshold in certain states , you may be eligible for Medicaid.

The premium subsidies are based on the cost of the Silver tier plan on the exchanges, although they can be used to pay for any tier. This means that, according to, you can opt for a free bronze tier plan or a relatively inexpensive gold tier plan. According to , in 2019 the average full cost premium was $ 594 per month, but the average subsidy was $ 514 per month.

You won’t be punished for short-term plans (technically)

One of the big changes that will come with the elimination of tax penalties is that more people are likely to buy into “short-term” plans that cover almost nothing. You can use these simple plans for up to a year, and consumers can renew them for up to three years. Plus, you can subscribe to these plans anytime, not just during open registration or special registration period.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, these plans can cost as little as $ 25 a month, depending on where you live. But relying on these plans means that any illness can leave you saddled with a pile of medical bills, reports have shown, because they exclude so much of your coverage. You may be denied coverage if you already have a medical condition or your coverage may be canceled retroactively. The insurer may also exclude certain procedures or coverage based on your medical history, or charge seniors and women significantly more (which the ACA prohibits). For example, KFF found that no short-term plan covered childbirth in 2018.

Finally, they can limit payments for certain treatments, as MarketWatch reported last year. “If hospitalized, some of these insurance companies will only pay a certain dollar amount for each day of hospital stay, up to the set number of days. If the cost of a hospital stay for a consumer exceeds this amount, he will have to pay out of his own pocket. “

Basically, you get what you pay for.

Where to go

You should start with , even if you live in a state that has its own exchange. You’re going to go to a website, click get coverage, select your state, and then the site will direct you to the correct site.

This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated on 11/18/2019 to include more recent information.


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