The best time to buy health insurance is during the open enrollment period. Typically, the period falls around November if you want to be covered over the coming year. It’s important that you don’t miss this period of open enrollment because once it closes it becomes difficult to change your health insurance coverage plan until the next period of open enrollment comes around. This is unless you qualify under the provisions of certain life changes.
For most people, unfortunately, the deadline set for enrolling or changing their 2019 health insurance plan has already passed. You may, however, still qualify for open enrollment in 2019 through Marketplace health insurance based on several different conditions and criterion.
Special Enrollment Period
In some very limited complex situations, a person can qualify outside the period covered under open enrollment thanks to Special Enrollment Periods. If, due to a life event such as getting married, moving, adopting a baby or having a baby, you can still qualify for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefits under the Special Enrollment Period. This effectively means you could still sign up for health insurance coverage at other times in the course of the year.
Applying: If already you know that you qualify for Special Enrollment, start applying now or if you want to change an existing plan, log in now. It helps to review the 2019 health insurance plans and prices. You will need to respond to several questions to identify the most suitable plan depending on your personal income.
Documentation: When applying for health insurance during a Special Enrollment Period through the Marketplace, you are likely to be asked to provide supporting documents that confirm the life events that make you qualified or eligible. After you have submitted your application, you will know if you need to supply support documents. Before starting to use the insurance coverage, you must send the required documents, if any.
Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Medicaid and CHIP are offering low-cost or free health coverage to millions across the United States. Those benefiting include some groups of people/families with limited income, the elderly, children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. If you qualify for either Medicaid or CHIP, you can get coverage at any time of the year.
To qualify for CHIP, the income limits are quite fairly high, so check the eligibility limits in your state before assuming that your children wouldn’t be qualified to receive CHIP. In fact, the benefits extend to cover even middle-class households.
Through State Exchanges
Several states in the US that are running their own exchanges normally extend their open enrollment periods to run before or after the normal/regular enrollment period. For example, even though open enrollment for 2019 ended on December 15, 2019 in most of the US, some states have extended their enrollment deadlines. These include Minnesota, California, New York, Colorado, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the District of Colombia.
If you didn’t enroll in health insurance coverage by the end of the 2019 open enrollment period and not expecting to qualify under Medicaid and CHIP or any special life event, your options are limited to policies that are not Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulated.
These options include medical discount plans, short-term health insurance, critical/specific-illness policies, some limited-benefit health plans, accident supplements, and dental/vision plans