If you’re looking to buy insurance from a healthcare exchange, timing can be critical. That’s because, if you didn’t sign up prior to March 31 this year, you’ll ordinarily have to wait all the way until Nov. 15, when the next open enrollment period begins.
However, there are quite a few exceptions to this rule, so those who find themselves without insurance midway through the year can take heart. While you can buy individual coverage outside of an exchange at any time, there are some drawbacks. For one, you won’t be eligible for tax credits that can help take the sting out of your insurance bill.
Here are some of the scenarios which may allow you to enroll after the standard open enrollment period.
Qualifying Life Event
If you recently experienced a major event in your life, the government may provide an exemption from open enrollment rules.
These “qualifying life events” include:
- Getting married or divorced
- Having a baby
- Adopting a child
- Moving your residence
- Gaining citizenship
- Getting out of prison
- Gaining or losing a dependent
- To see more life events, click here.
If you experience any of these changes, you’ll want to report it immediately at HealthCare.gov or by calling (800) 318-2596. If you’re eligible, you’ll have 60 days from the life event to sign up for coverage. Therefore, it pays to notify the Marketplace as quickly as possible.
Losing Existing Coverage
In many cases, losing your existing health coverage enables you to take advantage of the Special Enrollment Period. You may have reached a birthday that disqualifies you from your parent’s plan. Or perhaps you were dropped from a plan you had through your employer.
If so, let the Marketplace know immediately so you have enough time to research plans on an exchange. Just be aware that this exception only applies if you lost your coverage involuntarily. If you cancel your policy thinking you’ll be able to sign up through an exchange, you’ll find yourself out of luck.
Yet another exception applies to consumers who receive benefits through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which you can apply for year-round. If you have low to moderate income, it may not hurt to see whether you qualify for healthcare through these programs.
If you live in a state that chose to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, you typically qualify if you’re an individual and have annual income of less than $16,105 – or less than $32,913 for a family of four. According to Healthcare.gov, it’s a particularly good idea to apply if you’re pregnant, raising small children or have a disability, as these factors make it easier to meet the requirements of these programs.
The Bottom Line
Even if you missed the March 31 deadline, you may be able to sign up for coverage through an exchange in 2014. The government provides numerous exceptions for those who recently experienced a major change in their life or who are eligible to receive Medicaid or CHIP benefits.
InsuranceMedical discount plans can help the uninsured or underinsured afford better healthcare.
Home & AutoConcierge healthcare can mean extra attention from your doctor when you need it, but it isn't the best substitute for health insurance.
Personal FinanceHere are four "cures" that have been proven by scientific studies to be baseless yet remain on pharmacy shelves.
Personal FinanceCompanies are rethinking the level of coverage they give to their employees and how much that coverage will cost. Learn your alternative options in the event you lose your current healthcare ...
TaxesThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will affect many American taxpayers and have other financial impacts. Here are some things you will need to know.
InsuranceFrom health co-ops to private plans, here's a rundown of some of the best healthcare options for young adults just out of college.
RetirementHere's a rundown of the expected costs to pay for healthcare for senior citizens once they reach retirement.
BudgetingFeeling stressed out? Your health could suffer and your budget might not be far behind.
Investing NewsHere are three resilient, dividend-paying companies that may mitigate some worry in an uncertain investing environment.
Mutual Funds & ETFsLearn about the top five mutual funds that invest in stocks of companies that primarily operate in the health care sector of the United States.
Typically, qualified benefits offered through cafeteria plans are exempt from Social Security taxes. However, certain types ... Read Full Answer >>
In most states, an insurance company must give a policyholder written notice of at least 30 days before canceling a policy. ... Read Full Answer >>
In the United States, consumers do not pay any additional tax on health insurance premiums. However, your insurance premiums ... Read Full Answer >>
Insurance companies have the right to require drug tests for health insurance and life insurance policies, but not all of ... Read Full Answer >>
The two related terms "peril" and "hazard" are often used in reference to the insurance industry. Essentially, a peril is ... Read Full Answer >>
Agency problems vary from health care system to health care system, and not all economists agree on the degree and desirability ... Read Full Answer >>