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Open Enrollment: What you need to know

Here's what you need to know about Open Enrollment.

The Obamacare Open Enrollment period will officially commence on Nov.1, 2016 and run through Jan. 31, 2017. During this time, you and your family can review options for healthcare coverage and shop around to find the best available deals. Even if you are already covered, there are a number of reasons to visit the Insurance Marketplace during Open Enrollment. Since you last checked, your coverage may have changed or your plan may be ending. Likewise, there may be changes to subsidy offers, rates and the availability of certain services.

Use Open Enrollment to stay on top of your insurance coverage and learn more about your options. Here's what you need to know:

What is Open Enrollment

This period is the time of year where anyone can apply for or purchase a new health plan without penalty or worry. During this time, there are protections against denials. This means you can't be turned away from major coverage. After Jan. 31, you may be limited in your choices, and only be able to enroll in a larger plan during a major life event such as a marriage, birth of a child or loss of coverage. Importantly, there can also be tax penalties for your 2017 return if you miss Open Enrollment.

Why it's wise to shop around

This is the time of year for you and your family to learn more about insurance coverage. By comparing available plans, you can uncover a cheaper, more appropriate option. Likewise, you may avoid rate increases, changes in benefits or find that you are eligible for certain subsidies. A simple online search is the best way to see what options are available.

"Plans can change considerably year over year."

Plans can change considerably year over year, as can your candidacy for certain subsidies, even if you haven't changed jobs or experienced a major life event. Monthly premiums, offered services and other important considerations may be different in 2017, and there are projected cost increases of 25% on average.

At the same time, you may have been promoted, moved or had another change in the last year that may make it valuable to reconsider your insurance offerings. Your family may be paying too much for services that go unused. If you're starting a family, you may have the opposite consideration and may be in the market for a robuster plan. Open Enrollment is the time to answer any coverage questions and to use the Insurance Marketplace to learn more.

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