Image via Shutterstock How to apply for healthcare coverage
Image via Shutterstock

The ‘Gander addresses nine questions Michiganders have about the Special Enrollment Period for health insurance that began Feb. 15.

MICHIGAN—Michiganders who need more or better health insurance have until May to apply for low and no-cost coverage. It’s a special enrollment period to help protect families during the pandemic to get the healthcare necessary. 

We’re walking you through some of the first questions you’ll have navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace

First Off, What Is a Special Enrollment Period?

Special Enrollment Period (SEP) allows people to change their health insurance outside of open enrollment, the normal period to choose benefits. It usually happens when a person experiences a major life event like moving. 

Why Is Michigan Having a Special Enrollment Period Now?

Thanks to an executive order from Biden, every American can now elect new healthcare options that give them the best quality care during the pandemic. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said that there was nearly a 50% spike in Michiganders who were uninsured, leaving thousands of residents without the right healthcare options. 

“No Michigander should have to worry about access to quality, affordable healthcare, especially during a pandemic,” she said. “President Joe Biden’s executive order to reopen the health insurance marketplace will go a long way in expanding health coverage to Michiganders and I couldn’t be more grateful for his leadership during this difficult time.” 

When Can I Get Started?

Special enrollment begins Monday, Feb. 15 and runs until May 15. Normal open enrollment for insurance in 2021 ended in December. 

How Exactly Does Special Enrollment Work?

This enrollment period will work just like normal open enrollment. This means Michiganders can get low or no-cost insurance to help them through the pandemic. The same public advocates available to help people navigate the open enrollment system will be available through May 15 to assist Michiganders through the insurance process.

How Can I Use This Time to Get Better Health Insurance?

Michiganders have several options to learn more about the latest healthcare plans in 2021: 

  • Healthcare.gov, where users can browse and select the plan that’s right for them.
  • Direct enrollment through a provider’s website.
  • By calling 800-318-2596 for assistance applying for insurance.

What Kinds of Plans Are Being Offered?

Michiganders will find the typical set up for the health insurance marketplace: Plans are arranged by “metal” tiers with platinum plans offering the best coverage and lowest deductibles (the amount you pay before your plan starts covering costs), but most expensive premiums (the amount you pay each month for your coverage). 

On the other end of the spectrum, bronze plans have the highest deductibles and lowest premiums, with gold and silver plans in between the two extremes. 

Want to better understand deductibles and premiums? Healthline breaks it down.

What if I Have a Pre-Existing Condition?

You can still get insurance. Insurance discrimination based on pre-existing contitions is still illegal because of the Affordable Care Act.

Why Is Special Enrollment Important Right Now?

The coronavirus has left a large portion of Michiganders underinsured or uninsured, and that comes with large price tags, not just for patients but for hospitals. 

In Michigan, many uninsured patients in rural areas pose a risk to the ability of rural hospitals to remain open. 

Though it’s only been two months since open enrollment ended, this new enrollment window gives insurers and those helping people through the enrollment system more time to communicate with patients about their coverage and encourage people to enroll. This would help offset the worries of both patients and of hospitals. 

Who Is Helping Michigan Do This?

The federal government is working with over 8,000 people trained to assist in the enrollment process and more than 50,000 agents and brokers to help people find the insurance plan suited to them.