Open Enrollment 2022: Everything You Need to Know

Open Enrollment 2022: Everything You Need to Know

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Open enrollment is the period of time each year when you can enroll in a health insurance plan or change your coverage.

Open enrollment starts in November and continues through the winter months so you can choose your insurance plans for the upcoming calendar year. It's important to make your insurance selections during open enrollment because after it ends, you’ll have limitations on your ability to get insurance, change plans or access discounted rates from tax credits.

When is open enrollment 2022?

Open enrollment for 2022 insurance plans begins Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, and continues through Jan. 15, 2022 for individual and family insurance plans purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

With this extended federal enrollment period, your coverage dates will be determined by when you sign up for insurance.

  • Enroll on or before Dec. 15: coverage will begin on Jan. 1, 2022
  • Enroll between Dec. 16 and Jan. 15: coverage will begin on Feb. 1, 2022

In some states, the open enrollment period may be different due to state policies or COVID-19-related initiatives.

State
Open enrollment dates for 2022 health insurance
CaliforniaNov. 1, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022
District of ColumbiaNov. 1, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022
IdahoNov. 1, 2021-Dec. 15, 2021
MarylandNov. 1, 2021-Dec. 15, 2021
MassachusettsNov. 1, 2021-Jan. 23, 2022
New JerseyNov. 1, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022
New YorkNov. 16, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022
Rhode IslandNov. 1, 2021-Jan. 31, 2022

Other open enrollment schedules:

  • Medicare: Medicare open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, 2021.
  • Employer health insurance: If you receive health insurance through your job, open enrollment dates are set by your employer.

Other times you can enroll in a 2022 health insurance plan

If you miss the open enrollment deadline, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) offers two additional opportunities to sign up or change your health insurance:

  • If you have a qualifying life event such as moving, a change in your household size or losing health insurance coverage, you can qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, giving you the opportunity to enroll in health insurance or change your coverage at that time.
  • If you have a low-income, you could be eligible to sign up for 2022 coverage during special enrollment periods each month. This option is available to those who earn 150% of the federal poverty level. That's a maximum income of $19,320 per year for individuals and $39,750 for a family of four.
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What insurance plans and benefits are available?

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurers in all states are required to provide 10 essential health benefits. Also, you can not be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition.

What's covered:

  • Preventive care
  • COVID-19 diagnostic tests
  • Emergency services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Maternity care
  • Mental health
  • Substance abuse services
  • Pediatric care

The 2022 plans on the health insurance marketplace will have a out-of-pocket maximum that's no higher than $8,700 for individuals or $17,400 for families. Even if you have significant health care needs, your out-of-pocket costs for covered in-network services will not exceed your maximum.

This is an important protection offered by health insurance plans compatible with the ACA that isn’t offered with short-term health insurance or through indemnity-style insurance companies like Sidecar Health.

On the marketplace, plans will be organized into metal tiers:

Bronze plans

Cheapest monthly costs but generally have high deductibles or fewer cost-sharing benefits.

Best for: Those who are young and healthy or who don’t expect to need significant medical care.

Silver plans

Middle-of-the-road plans that balance coverage with monthly costs.

Best for: Most people, including those who expect to have typical medical needs.

Gold and Platinum plans

Most expensive but have strong cost-sharing benefits and low deductibles.

Best for: Those who expect to need significant medical care.

In addition to comparing plan prices and coverage, we also recommend you choose one of the best-rated health insurance companies to help you have fewer frustrations, wider access to doctors and useful add-on benefits. We recommend UnitedHealthcare, Anthem, Oscar and Kaiser Permanente as some of the best overall insurance companies.

This year, there are an additional 32 insurance companies offering plans on the marketplace, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Plus, several major insurance companies are expanding health coverage to new states, giving you more plan options.

Health insurance companies expanding to new states in the 2022 marketplace:

  • Aetna/CVS: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia
  • Oscar: Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska
  • Bright HealthCare: Texas, Georgia, Utah, Virginia
  • Cigna: Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania

Is there a health insurance mandate in 2022?

  • Federal: No, individual health insurance is not required in most states because the mandate was repealed by federal government policies that were passed in 2017 and 2019.
  • State: A state-level mandate exists in California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and the District of Columbia, making health insurance a requirement for those residents.
  • Our recommendation: Even though there is no federal mandate, it’s worthwhile to have health insurance as a potential cost-saving measure. As many uninsured Americans know, the bill for just one trip to the emergency room can exceed the annual cost of health insurance, and the lack of preventive care can have long-term consequences.
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How much does insurance cost during open enrollment?

The average cost of health insurance in 2021 is $313 to $709 per month, depending on coverage level, and in 2022, most states will see an increase in the cost of health insurance. Insurers have submitted requests for their proposed rate changes, but actual rate changes must be approved by each state.

Approved increase in health insurance costs for 2022 marketplace plans

  • New York: 3.7%
  • California: 1.8%
  • Oregon: 1.5%

Those with low to moderate incomes will pay a discounted rate for health insurance purchased through the marketplace because of health insurance tax credits (sometimes called subsidies).

For example, a Bronze plan costs an average of $30 per month for someone who earns $30,000, and the average cost is $214 for someone who earns $45,000.

In 2022, these health insurance discounts from the Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC) are available for those who earn between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. For an individual, that's an income of $12,880 to $51,520, and for a family of four, it's $26,500 to $106,000. Those who earn more than this may still qualify for discounted insurance through the marketplace based on the ratio of health insurance costs to income.

Find out how much you’ll pay for health insurance by using our Obamacare/Affordable Care Act subsidy calculator.

Free or cheap health insurance in 2022

  • In 2022, four out of five enrollees can get an insurance plan for $10 or less per month because of expanded tax credits.
  • Some people may qualify for free health insurance through the marketplace because of the American Rescue Plan.
  • Even when it's not open enrollment, you can sign up for Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or other low-income health insurance options.
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Should you open an FSA or HSA?

Health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) let you put away pretax money that you can use for medical needs such as copayments for doctor visits, deductibles, medications and even dental and vision care.

By using pretax dollars for qualified medical expenses, you can lower your tax bill at the end of the year and make health care more accessible.

Example of how a tax-free account can save you money:

  • An individual contributes $3,650 to an HSA to be used for medical expenses.
  • Because there are no income taxes paid on these funds, someone with a 20% tax rate would save $730 on their tax bill.

There are important differences between an FSA and HSA, and eligibility for these tax-advantaged accounts is based on the health insurance plan you choose. During open enrollment, you’ll also determine the amount you want to contribute to these plans.

  • HSAs are only available to those who sign up for an insurance plan that's labeled a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). These plans will generally only cover preventive care before the deductible, so your HSA will be an important tool when paying for health care. Funds in an HSA can be carried over from year to year.

    In 2022, individuals can contribute $3,650 to an HSA, and families can contribute $7,300. If you’re over age 55, you can increase the contribution limit by $1,000.

  • FSAs are not available as a part of the Health Insurance Marketplace, but you may be familiar with them from an employer’s health insurance plan.

    These accounts follow a "use it or lose it" annual policy. Generally, money in an FSA account won't roll over from year to year, so you'll need to be thoughtful to match your FSA account balance to your health care spending.

2022 tips for an HSA account

  • COVID-19-related purchases for face masks and hand sanitizer are eligible.
  • If you sign up for an HSA-eligible insurance plan, you’ll need to set up an HSA bank account where those tax-free dollars are deposited.
  • Watch out for any account fees charged by the financial institution.
  • Use IRS Publication 502 for the list of qualified medical expenses that you can spend the money on.
{"backgroundColor":"ice","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Ch4\u003E2022 tips for an HSA account\u003C\/h4\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--root \"\u003E\n\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--content\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodeList--column\"\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\"ListUnordered--root ListUnordered--bullet\"\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n COVID-19-related purchases for \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" rel=\"noopener\" target=\"_blank\" title=\"IRS: Face masks and other personal protective equipment are tax deductible\" href=\"https:\/\/www.irs.gov\/newsroom\/face-masks-and-other-personal-protective-equipment-to-prevent-the-spread-of-covid-19-are-tax-deductible\"\u003Eface masks and hand sanitizer\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E are eligible.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n If you sign up for an HSA-eligible insurance plan, you\u2019ll need to set up an HSA bank account where those tax-free dollars are deposited.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Watch out for any account fees charged by the financial institution.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli class=\"ListUnordered--list-item\"\u003E\n Use \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" rel=\"noopener\" target=\"_blank\" title=\"IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses\" href=\"https:\/\/www.irs.gov\/publications\/p502\"\u003EIRS Publication 502\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E for the list of qualified medical expenses that you can spend the money on.\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\n\n","padding":"normal"}
items you can buy with your FSA card
Source: FSAstore.com

What other benefits and policies should you consider during open enrollment?

When applying for health insurance, it’s a good time to consider other types of insurance that may be useful to you.

  • Dental: Some marketplace health insurance policies will include dental care for adults, and many will include pediatric dental care. You can also purchase a separate dental insurance policy through the marketplace or directly from an insurance company.
  • Vision: Vision insurance is not available through the marketplace, but you can purchase policies directly from an insurance company. Vision discount programs are another way you can save on vision care.
  • Life: Generally, experts say you should carry five to 10 times your annual salary in term life insurance. But we recommend adding up your total debts and your family's future financial needs to calculate how much life insurance you need.
  • Employer programs like commuter benefits: Open enrollment may also be when you need to sign up for any benefits programs through your workplace such as commuter discounts, wellness programs or child care programs.

Choosing your 2022 health insurance plan

If you don't know where to start, our guide to choosing the right health insurance plan breaks down the coverage and cost considerations to help you select the best plan for your health care needs.

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Frequently asked questions

When is open enrollment for health insurance in 2022?

In most states, the enrollment period for 2022 health insurance plans is from Nov. 1, 2021 through Jan 15, 2022. There is also a monthly special enrollment period for those who have low incomes, making it easier to get coverage throughout the year.

How do you get health insurance after open enrollment?

After open enrollment, you can enroll in insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace if you have a qualifying life event such as moving or losing insurance coverage. There are also special enrollment periods each month for those who are low income. Programs like Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are available any time during the year, even if it's not open enrollment.

What does 'Obamacare' open enrollment mean?

Open enrollment is the time when you can sign up for health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. This was established with the Affordable Care Act (also called "Obamacare") as a standardized timeline to enroll in health insurance in the fall for a policy that covers the next calendar year.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.