If you already have health insurance, it’s important you keep your existing plan or buy a new one to protect yourself and your family and avoid any gaps in coverage.

You have a few options if you already have individual coverage. No matter when your coverage started in 2016, you must renew your current plan or choose a new plan. To avoid gaps in coverage, this must be done by December 15, 2016 for January 1, 2017 coverage.

Renew Your Current Plan

Your current health insurance carrier will send you a letter and information about your renewal. In most cases, you have the opportunity to keep your current plan. If your carrier no longer offers your current plan, it should offer you a renewal in a similar plan.

To keep your current plan (or the similar plan you carrier suggested), you don’t need to do anything. You will be automatically re-enrolled and your new coverage period will begin on January 1, 2017.

Choose a New Plan

If you don’t want to renew your current health insurance plan, you can choose a new plan for 2017. Medical Mutual and other insurers offer a number of subsidy-eligible and non-subsidy-eligible health plans for you to consider.  If you are eligible for a federal subsidy, you can also shop for plans on the public Marketplace. You can also enroll in a plan directly through Medical Mutual.

You can also get help by calling a health insurer directly. Medical Mutual’s licensed agents can help you choose a plan if you have a subsidy or if you don’t. They can also help you through any changes to your subsidy. You can reach them at 1.866.488.3266.

All 2016 individual plans end on December 31, 2016. Be sure to pick a new plan online or by phone by December 15, 2016, for a January 1, 2017, start date. This will avoid any gap in your health insurance coverage.

If you need help comparing different types of health insurance plans, view our guide.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Here are the important dates to remember when renewing your health insurance plan or choosing a new plan:

  • November 1, 2016 – 2017 Open enrollment begins. This is the first day you can choose a new plan for 2017.
  • December 15, 2016 – This is the last day you can choose a new plan for 2017 for coverage beginning on January 1, 2017. This will avoid any gap in coverage.
  • December 31, 2016 – If you bought a health plan in 2016, your coverage ends (no matter what date your coverage started).
  • January 1, 2017 – Your 2017 coverage starts if you enrolled by December 15, 2016, or renewed your 2016 plan. Remember: to keep your current plan, you don’t need to do anything and coverage will continue.

Reporting Status Changes

It’s also important to report any status changes whether you’re renewing your plan or picking a new plan. Status changes could have happened in 2016 or you might anticipate them in 2017. These changes include:

  • Changes in income
  • Job-based health insurance coverage for any household member (even if he or she hasn’t enrolled in such a plan)
  • Household changes, including
    • Birth and adoption
    • Divorce and separation
    • Death
    • Placing a child for adoption or foster care
    • A child on your policy turning 26
    • A dependent on your policy changing status (he or she is no longer your dependent)
  • A household member getting coverage from a public program, like Medicaid, CHIP or Medicare
  • Change in permanent home address

Reporting these changes determines if you are eligible for savings (and how much those savings amount to) and what plans are offered.

If You Have Employer Coverage

If you have coverage through your employer, the company will probably offer you coverage again in 2017. Talk to your Human Resources department or benefits administrator to learn about what you need to do. If your employer is not offering coverage, you will have to buy a plan on your own to avoid paying a penalty. Learn more about how to compare health insurance plans using our guide.