What small business owners and freelancers need to know about getting covered for 2019

Open enrollment to purchase health insurance plans for 2019 through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual marketplaces has started. This open enrollment season, we are partnering with Fiverr and Postmates to highlight the importance of enrolling and share important resources to help you get covered. Fiverr, Postmates and Small Business Majority are coordinating marketing and educational efforts to engage independent workers, remind them of important deadlines and promote resources that can help you navigate your options. If you’re a self-employed entrepreneur or freelancer, or have employees who need coverage through Healthcare.gov, we’re also offering a series of webinars to answer your questions about enrollment and help you choose the best healthcare option for you. Learn more about our partnership and register for one of the webinars here

In addition to our webinars, check out these five key facts about this year’s open enrollment below:

  • Most critically, the enrollment period through the federal marketplace is shorter this year than in previous years, running from November 1 through December 15. Seven states and the District of Columbia have extended open enrollment beyond December 15, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Rhode Island (you can find your state’s deadline here). The short enrollment period means it’s critical that you check out your options and enroll as soon as possible.
  • You may also notice there are fewer people helping you sign up for coverage this year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reduced the budget for ACA “navigators, unbiased groups that help people enroll in marketplace coverage, to just $10 million an 84% budget decrease since 2016. In addition, Iowa, New Hampshire and Montana will not be receiving any navigator funding. But the good news is that there are still many fantastic resources out there. Check out our website, healthcoverageguide.org, and our free healthcare webinars to learn more. 
  • It’s also important to understand that costs will remain stable for most enrollees. In fact, last year, 84% of enrollees in the marketplaces qualified for premium tax credits (individuals with incomes under $48,240 and families of four with incomes under $98,400). This year 8 in 10 people qualify for financial help that will lower their monthly premiums to between $50 and $100.
  • Congress repealed the individual mandate for purchasing insurance in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Although health coverage is no longer mandatory, it is still strongly advised that small business owners and freelancers enroll for a healthcare plan. Having health insurance helps protect both your health and financial security by ensuring you’re protected against an unexpected healthcare scare. Having insurance also provides you access to critical preventive services and health screenings that can make sure you stay healthy so you can focus on growing your small business.
  • If you purchase small group coverage for yourself and your employees, it’s also important to remember that small businesses are no longer able to shop online for a group plan through Healthcare.gov. You can still use the site to compare plans and verify eligibility for tax credits, but will then need to work with a broker or agent or purchase directly through a carrier. You can learn more about small group coverage here.

It’s important that small business owners, solo entrepreneurs and freelancers educate themselves and explore their options early. Don’t wait to ensure you, your family and your employees are covered in 2019!