Got health insurance? Open enrollment has been extended

Update: Since this blog was published, the deadline to get covered through MNsure by a health insurance plan with coverage starting January 1 has been extended to December 28.

Minnesotans have until January 31 to use MNsure to enroll in health insurance coverage for 2016 during this year’s “open enrollment” period. For coverage to begin by January 1, the sign-up deadline is actually December 28. After January 31, people can still sign up for coverage if their life changes in a major way, like if they lose a job or welcome a new family member.

Most people are required by federal law to have health insurance, or they face financial penalties. And the penalty for going uncovered is increasing this year, making it important to sign up now.

The Affordable Care Act allowed for the creation of health insurance exchanges like MNsure so that people could compare and purchase health plans. If the idea of buying health insurance is intimidating, help is out there: the Affordable Care Act also created health care navigators, whose job is to assist people as they figure out which plan is best for their household’s needs. MNsure provides a directory of navigators, and also offers a toll free helpline (1-855-366-7873) seven days a week to answer questions.

MNsure isn’t the only avenue for buying insurance, but it is the only place Minnesotans can access federal supports that lower the cost of health insurance, like tax credits that lower premiums and reductions in out-of-pocket costs for some health insurance plans.

If Minnesotans hunt for coverage through MNsure, they also will find out whether they qualify for affordable health insurance through Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare.

The holidays will be here before we know it, and January 31 will be right around the corner. If Minnesotans don’t already have health insurance on their shopping lists, now is a good time to add it.

-Ben Horowitz

About Ben Horowitz

Ben Horowitz is the Minnesota Budget Project's policy advocate.
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