This post is contributed by eHealthInsurance Services, Inc. (eHealth), our health insurance broker partner.

Heads up if you’re looking for health insurance: the 2019 Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is shortened this year! Enrollment officially begins Thursday, November 1, 2018 and runs until Saturday, December 15, 2018. Most plans bought during this time will begin January 1, 2019. But if your state has its own health insurance marketplace, double-check the timeframe of your Open Enrollment Period since it may be different.

On top of that, there are 5 other important changes you need to know about. See what you can expect!

What’s new this year?

1. A shorter enrollment period

If you haven’t bought health insurance in a few years, you may be surprised to see that the timeframe for purchasing isn’t as long as it used to be. Stay on top of these new dates so you don’t miss your chance to get health insurance plans that are only available during the OEP.

2. No fines for being uninsured

In the past, if you went uninsured for an extended amount of time, under federal law you could face fines of up to $695 per person (or 2.5% of your household income). The good news is that this fine, which is associated with the individual mandate, will no longer apply starting with the 2019 calendar year. Which means you won’t face fines, at least under federal law, if you go without coverage in 2019 or buy a health insurance plan in 2019 that doesn’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act.

3. Extended short-term health insurance plans

One of the most significant changes made to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the extension of the duration of short-term health insurance plans. In the past, short-term plans only lasted a few months at the most. And that made them difficult to use as sustainable coverage. But now, you can have short-term health insurance for a year, with the opportunity to re-enroll for up to 3 years.

This might be huge news for those who couldn’t afford the fully-loaded plans and need access to plans with limited benefits but affordable price tags. Now that the individual mandate fine has been repealed, effective 2019, you won’t be penalized for having coverage that doesn’t meet ACA standards.

4. Expansion of associated health plans

If you own or work for a small business that’s unable to afford group health insurance, then you’ve probably had to buy your own health insurance during OEP. Due to new rules that’ve rolled out for association health plans, you may see some changes with your coverage options. These rules aim to make it easier for smaller companies to band together and reap the same purchasing benefits that large groups do.

5. More marketplace options

These changes have made it easier for you to use licensed online brokers, like eHealth, to shop for and buy ACA plans. The enrollment experience has been streamlined to make it easier to shop for and apply for your plan online.

And the best part? Places like eHealth might sell the plans available on the government exchange in addition to many more ACA-compliant plans that aren’t offered on government marketplaces. So this Open Enrollment Period, you may find yourself having more options on where to shop, how to shop, and which plans to choose from.

About our partner, eHealth

eHealth is an online health insurance marketplace for individuals, families, and small businesses. eHealth’s goal is to make finding health insurance easy for everyone. With a huge selection of plans from top carriers, free quotes, and educational resources, eHealth can help you find the right plan for your budget and health care needs. Learn more.

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