Your Quick Guide to the 2021 Open Enrollment Period

Once each year, you get a chance to shop the Health Insurance Marketplace and get a Marketplace plan, also known as Obamacare or an Affordable Care Act plan.

This time of year is known as the annual Open Enrollment Period. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensures that all Americans get this opportunity once a year to buy health insurance for themselves and their families regardless of any pre-existing health issues.

For 2021, the Open Enrollment Period runs from Sunday, November 1 through Tuesday, December 15, 2020.

Coverage purchased during the OEP window will begin on January 1, 2021

You can shop available plans and compare prices here or use the button below. Just enter your zip code, age and income and you will see all plans available and be able to compare plans side by side.

President Donald Trump ended the penalty for being uninsured after the end of 2018, but being uninsured is dangerous in and of itself, and once the open enrollment period ends, you won’t be able to sign up for coverage again until next fall unless you become eligible for a new employer’s health insurance plan.

Depending on where your income ends up, you may qualify for premium subsidies on Maine’s Health Insurance Marketplace (these tax credits actually extend well into the middle class; a family of four can get premium subsidies in 2021 with an income as high as $100,000).

Who is eligible to shop during Open Enrollment?

Not sure if you’re eligible to shop the Marketplace for an Obamacare plan? Good news: Everyone is!

If you are a U.S. citizen, national or legal resident of the United States who currently resides in the U.S., you’re qualified to shop the Marketplace. This includes green card holders, refugees, asylum seekers, and individuals with non-immigrant status who have a valid worker visa. 

The only exceptions? If you’re currently enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid or in prison. 

Keep in mind that if you are offered ACA-compliant health insurance by your employer and choose to opt-out of it and instead purchase your own Obamacare plan, you usually won’t be eligible for any subsidies and will need to pay full price for your monthly premiums.

Because of this, if you have access to health insurance coverage through your employer, we recommend you utilize that instead of the Marketplace, unless your employer insurance costs more than 9.78% of your household income.

For everyone else, though, welcome to shopping the Marketplace during OEP! We’ve tried to compile all the essential information you’ll need to make this year’s OEP as seamless as possible for you. Remember that should you have any questions at all, the HealthSherpa Consumer Advocate Team is here to help and can be reached here. 

You can shop available plans and compare plan premiums here. Enrolling on HealthSherpa only takes an average of 15 minutes.

During Open Enrollment Period, anyone who’s eligible can enroll in a Marketplace health plan. The rest of the year is known as Special Enrollment Period (SEP), and you’ll need a “Qualifying Life Event” such as losing your health coverage, having a child, getting married, or another change in household size or health coverage.

MaineCare may be an option for you.

In 2018, Maine voters approved a ballot measure to expand Medicaid which is called “MaineCare”” in Maine. Coverage is available if your income is up to 138% of the federal poverty level (above that level, premium subsidies are available up to 400 percent of the poverty level).

If you’re unable to afford health insurance while you’re between jobs, you might want to consider working with a local advisor to help understand how to take advantage of the subsidies to pay less now and more later on when you can afford it.

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