Monday, Nov. 1, marked the beginning of open enrollment season for health insurance coverage plans offered through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. That means now through Jan. 15, 2022, is the time to purchase, update or renew health care plans for next year.
According to Rob Woodsen, an independent provider based in Wilson, changes made to the federal health care system earlier this year may make it easier for Wyoming residents to save money on their insurance. For instance, open enrollment used to only run through mid-December, but folks now have more time to assess what kind of coverage they want.
“Open enrollment provides the window of opportunity to enroll in a comprehensive, no-questions-asked quality insurance,” he said. “When I say no questions asked, there’s no health questions [about pre-existing conditions]. Anybody can qualify for Affordable Care Act coverage, you know, as long as you’re a resident and you’re applying during the open enrollment time.”
Costs are also now capped based on income for individuals making less than a certain percentage of the federal poverty level: Around $51,000 per year for a single individual or $87,000 for a family of three.
“They’ll pay no more than 8.5% of their income for a benchmark 2022 plan,” Woodsen said. “This is huge and welcome news for Wyoming residents that purchase their own insurance.”
Open enrollment also allows people to customize what kind of insurance they want, according to Woodsen, and pre-existing conditions or previous accidents have no effect on pricing. That means Wyomingites looking for preventative procedures like mammograms or other cancer screenings, for example, can get that coverage at no extra cost.
“If you’re young and really, really active and healthy, you could get an affordable, probably zero-cost, catastrophic high-deductible plan,” Woodsen said. “Hopefully, if you did get injured or something, that will keep you out of debt in an accident.”
Wyoming historically has some of the highest insurance premiums in the nation. Open enrollment allows folks to survey their options, and that could be particularly helpful in Teton County, where many people don’t qualify for coverage through their employers.
“If they’re a legal resident, all of these people will benefit,” Woodsen said. “This includes gig economy workers. You might work at a restaurant, you don’t have benefits, for instance, or 1099 employees, self-employed people, unemployed people.”
Often, people forget about open enrollment season, according to Woodsen, or think signing up is too complicated. However, recent changes have made the entire process a lot simpler. And for those who aren’t interested in Wyoming’s main insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the independent, member-owned Mountain Health CO-OP is another option.