Congratulations if you're one of the 8 million Americans who purchased affordable health insurance through HealthCare.gov or your state's Obamacare exchange this year.
But if you value your plan, there's an additional step you need to take that could have a big impact on whether you're able to keep your coverage as is.
The HealthCare.gov team recently notified those insured through the exchanges that they need to report certain life events, including relocation, a pay increase and a visit from the stork, some of which could affect their premium tax credit -- the federal subsidy designed to keep their costs down.
That's not necessarily bad news. Some life changes could save you even more on your annual premium.
"Reporting these changes will help you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance so you can avoid getting too much or too little in advance," according to the IRS website.
A long list of possibilities
You need to notify your exchange if you:
- Get married or divorced.
- Have a child, adopt a child, or place a child for adoption.
- Have a change in income.
- Get health coverage through a job or a program like Medicare or Medicaid.
- Change your place of residence.
- Have a change in disability status.
- Gain or lose a dependent.
- Become pregnant.
- Experience other changes that may affect your income and household size.
You also need to let the exchange know if you wish to correct your name, date of birth or Social Security number.
You could qualify for special enrollment
Once you report a change, you'll receive a notice that explaining whether you're eligible for a "special enrollment period," which would give you 60 days to shop for new Obamacare coverage, possibly at a lower cost.
If you aren't eligible for special enrollment but the tax credit you qualify for has changed, you won't be allowed to change plans until the next open enrollment begins Nov. 15. However, you can adjust the amount of your tax credit that you want applied to your monthly premiums.
The easiest way to report life changes is online. Simply log in to your account, click on your application, then select "Report a life change" from the menu on the left. You also can report changes through the Marketplace Call Center at (800) 318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).
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Veteran contributing editor Jay MacDonald is co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."