Affordable Care Act health care plans are divided into four levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. (Getty Images)
If you buy your health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace or want to, Wednesday is the first day you can change plans or enroll in a new one. There are two other dates to remember: Enrollment will end Jan. 15, 2024, but if you want coverage to begin Jan. 1, you must enroll by Dec. 15.
The pandemic-era changes that made more people eligible for more financial assistance with premiums remain in effect through 2025.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, those enhanced benefits will mean that 4 in 5 people who use the Marketplace will be able to find health care coverage for $10 or less per month.
Affordable Care Act health care plans are divided into four levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. All plans must include basic benefits such as emergency services; hospital coverage; maternity, newborn, and pediatric care; mental health and addiction coverage; and prescription drug benefits.
But those plans differ in cost and coverage: Smaller premiums come with higher copays, out-of-pocket costs, and potentially few choices of provider. For example, the silver plan, considered the “benchmark” or middle-of-the-road plan, pays 70 percent of medical expenses versus 90 percent in the platinum plan.
New this year, if you already have a plan but would qualify for more assistance under the silver plan, you may be automatically re-enrolled into that option if it offers more coverage for equal or less cost.
To qualify for any plan, a person must live in the United States and be a citizen, national, or otherwise in the country lawfully. People who are incarcerated or on Medicare are not eligible. People insured through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can have a plan but not federal subsidies to pay for it.
Individuals can enroll online at healthcare.gov.
If you want help understanding and evaluating plans, you have several free options.
First Choice Services and Health Market Connect provide free assistance in multiple languages. The New Hampshire Insurance Department is another option, as is the state’s benefits assistance portal, nheasy.nh.gov. The Foundation for Healthy Communities is also offering assistance at no cost.
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