On November 1, open enrollment for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace Exchange began, and will continue through December 15. For states that have created their own exchange, open enrollment is open now, as well.

Who is Eligible for Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act?

You are eligible for coverage if you are under age 65 and not enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. The open enrollment period is the time to choose your private health insurance plan or switch from your existing health insurance plan to a different private plan if you are unhappy.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, created the Federal and State exchanges. Prior to 2019, failure to enroll in a qualifying plan without being eligible for an exemption resulted in a financial penalty. Recent changes to the law no longer require that you have insurance, although some states, such as New Jersey, still mandate that you do.

How to Find the Right Health Insurance Plan

It can be confusing to identify the right health insurance plan, especially if your state has its own exchange. Fortunately, there are resources to help guide you.

The Federal website, found at www.healthcare.gov, allows you to enroll in or renew a plan, find a plan using an intuitive online tool, or get connected to a local representative who can help you find the right plan based on your individual needs.

Both New York and New Jersey have their own exchanges. The New York exchange is called the NY State of Health and can be found at www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov. The New Jersey exchange is called Get Covered New Jersey and can be found at www.nj.gov/governor/getcoverednj.

The penalty for failure to enroll in these plans has been eliminated, but there are still subsidies available if you qualify and can’t afford the premiums.

Remember, carriers come and go, and benefits and costs change. Therefore, it’s important not to assume that nothing has changed in your plan and to renew it blindly. Take advantage of the online tools, as well as any local help you can receive.

Last year 11.4 million people selected or re-enrolled in a plan during the Open Enrollment Period. That is an average of 253,000 people a day. The Open Enrollment Period has a short window, and trying to enroll right before the deadline could result in delayed coverage in 2020. So don’t delay; get started today.