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  Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart reminds Iowans that December 15, 2016 is the deadline for purchasing or changing individual health insurance coverage to become effective January 1, 2017. This deadline applies both to people who need to purchase new coverage and to people who want to renew current coverage. Health insurance may be purchased after December 15, 2016 until the open enrollment season officially ends January 31, 2017, but the insurance cannot become effective until after January 1, 2017.
“Iowans already covered by individual health insurance plans should not be complacent by allowing automatic reenrollment in the same plans,” Gerhart said. “It is important for Iowans to be sure to find the best plans for them. It may turn out that the plans people currently have are still their best options, but it is important to check around.”
Action is required because of changes in Iowa’s individual health insurance market. For example, some insurance companies have decided not to offer individual health insurance policies in Iowa. Some insurance companies that still offer plans in Iowa have significantly raised the health insurance premiums for those plans.
Action items for Iowans purchasing their own health insurance coverage:
1. Find what health insurance plans are available in your area. The Iowa Insurance Division has available on its website a list showing the health insurance companies that offer plans in each Iowa county. You also may call 1-800-318-2596 or visit www.HealthCare.gov for information regarding enrollment. Navigators, certified application counselors and local insurance agents around the state are available to help Iowans review which insurance plans may best fit their needs. Iowans can find local help by visiting https://localhelp.HealthCare.gov/.
2. Pick a plan. Look at all factors, including the types of coverage and services offered under each different plan; whether a person’s preferred doctor is within a plan’s network; the cost, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance; and whether a person is eligible for a tax credit by purchasing through the Health Insurance Marketplace. An Iowan visiting www.HealthCare.gov will be able to calculate any applicable tax credits and review cost and benefit comparisons among all plan levels offered by participating companies in the applicant’s area. Once the best plan is found, either purchase it or reenroll in it (if it is the same plan).
3. Once a plan is chosen, check with your current insurance carrier to see if you need to cancel any existing coverage to avoid overlap and double billing of premiums.