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It’s Open Enrollment for 2020! Resources to Help Consumers Get Covered

By Hannah Markus,

11.06.2020

Open enrollment season began on November 1, 2020, and ends on December 15, 2020! Right now, individuals and families looking for health insurance can find and enroll in, high-quality coverage through Healthcare.gov (or their state’s marketplace). Coverage will start on January 1, 2021. This coverage includes protections for people with pre-existing conditions, as well as a robust set of essential health benefits, such as preventive services, prescription drugs, maternity care, behavioral health services, and COVID-19 testing and treatment.

During a pandemic, having comprehensive health coverage is essential. It can help health care consumers afford routine health care services, and more urgent care when they get sick, including care for COVID-19. Comprehensive coverage can also protect consumers’ financial security by preventing them from having to pay high out-of-pocket costs.

Below, we provide important resources you can use to help health care consumers better understand their insurance options and how to enroll in coverage.

Helping Health Care Consumers Evaluate and Find Plans

As a first step, anyone who is looking for a new insurance plan can learn about and apply for both marketplace and Medicaid coverage through Healthcare.gov or through their state’s marketplace. Healthcare.gov will also direct consumers to their state’s marketplace. When applying for coverage, the marketplace screens for eligibility for other coverage, such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Through these programs, consumers may be eligible for free or low-cost care depending on their income and family size. Individuals and families can also apply directly for Medicaid or CHIP through their state Medicaid agency.

Additionally, for those who currently have COBRA coverage due to losing employer-based health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic or for any other reason, they now have the opportunity to enroll in a different plan that might provide more affordable coverage.

Consumers with Current Marketplace Coverage

There’s good news for consumers who are already enrolled in marketplace plans: If they don’t choose a new plan or cancel their current plan, they may be reenrolled into the same coverage for 2021. However, we suggest that consumers review 2021 marketplace plans, as there might be new options that are more affordable or better suited to their needs.

Financial assistance is available to help many people afford coverage if they have lost their jobs or incomes during this pandemic, as well as to help many others who have moderate incomes.

Beware of Junk Plans Sold Outside of Healthcare.gov

Watch out for plans that don’t have important consumer protections. This includes short-term health plans, which are sold outside of Healthcare.gov and the state-based marketplaces. Short-term plans don’t generally cover care related to pre-existing conditions or essential health benefits like maternity care or prescription drugs. When picking a plan in a marketplace, consumers are assured that they will get comprehensive plans and not junk insurance.

To ensure that individuals and families get comprehensive coverage, we recommend they visit Healthcare.gov to enroll.

Navigators Are Waiting to Help Consumers Enroll

Navigators, also called enrollment assisters, are available to consumers who are seeking local, unbiased help with enrolling in coverage through Healthcare.gov or their state’s marketplace. Consumers can use the Get Covered Connector from the nonprofit organization Young Invincibles to schedule an appointment with a local application assister.

Medicaid and CHIP Are Available All Year Long

It’s important to remember that individuals and families with very low incomes may be eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. There is no special enrollment period for these programs – people who are eligible can enroll in them at any point during the year through Healthcare.gov or through a state’s marketplace.

More Resources that Advocates and Organizations Can Use to Help Consumers Enroll

Listed below are resources from trusted sources that are designed to guide consumers through the enrollment processes for the marketplaces, Medicaid, and CHIP. We’ve also included resources that promote open enrollment and help enroll consumers in coverage.

Note that it’s very important for consumers to enroll in coverage despite the ongoing court case challenging the Affordable Care Act. That case is now before the Supreme Court, but it has not changed the availability of coverage for 2021.

Direct Assistance for Consumers

Resources for Advocates and Organizations to Help Consumers Enroll in Marketplace Coverage

From the American Association on Health and Disability:

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

  • For enrollment assisters, advocates, and people wanting to learn more about enrolling in coverage, watch the Beyond the Basics Webinar Series, which provides training and resources that answer more complicated questions beyond what is offered on Healthcare.gov.
  • This blog post has information on how 2020 plans and prices compare with what is being offered for 2021.

From the Center on Health Insurance Reforms:

  • For enrollment assisters, check out this Navigator Resource Guide, which summarizes federal policy and any recent changes. It also has state-specific guidance on policies that affect eligibility for enrolling in coverage.

From the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS):

From Community Catalyst:

  • For advocates, this Outreach Hub compiles a variety of useful, unbranded materials in one place. These materials include health insurance literacy guides, social media graphics, one-pagers, fact sheets, videos, messaging guidance and other resources to help spread the word about open and special enrollment periods.

From Get America Covered:

  • For advocates and navigators, check out their Open Enrollment: By the Numbers cheat sheet, which summarizes enrollment numbers over the last open enrollment periods and links to state-based marketplaces.
  • Get America Covered surveyed people with and without health coverage and found that there is a strong demand for health insurance and high satisfaction with marketplace coverage.

From Out2Enroll:

  • For enrollment assisters and navigators who want to help LGBTQ+ individuals enroll in coverage, sign up through Out2Enroll to start the enrollment assister training program.
  • Their toolkit includes hashtags, key dates, messaging, printable materials and social media shareable materials. This toolkit focuses on helping people in the LGBTQ+ community understand their enrollment options.
  • week-by-week content calendar provides images and suggests language for each week of open enrollment.

From Transform Health:

From Young Invincibles:

  • For navigators interested in helping younger consumers sign up, this toolkit provides resources, suggested messaging, and OE8 graphics to engage young consumers and help them understand their coverage options for 2021. These resources are available in English and Spanish.
  • Do you have a personal story about open enrollment? Submit your experiences at the Get Covered Story hub.
  • Consumers of all ages can use the Get Coverage Connector to find application assisters near them.