The Health Insurance Marketplace is one of the changes introduced with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The highly publicized online marketplace was developed to make it easy for uninsured people to purchase affordable health insurance. The marketplace offers a selection of health plans at different price levels and enables users to apply for premium subsidies if they qualify based on their income.
Annual Enrollment Period
One key fact to be aware of about the Health Insurance Marketplace is that, like group health insurance plans through employers, there is an annual enrollment period. With rare exception, new coverage cannot be purchased until the next Open Enrollment period.
For 2014 coverage, the enrollment period ended March 31, 2014. The 2015 annual Open Enrollment period is scheduled from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. For those seeking insurance outside of the Open Enrollment period, we recommend the highly popular Short Term Health Plans, which are flexible plans that can meet your insurance needs and fill the gap between long term plans.
Making Changes Outside Annual Open Enrollment
You can cancel coverage purchased through the marketplace and obtain medical insurance coverage through an insurance broker, like Custom Health Plans, or new employer at any time, however be aware of the restrictions and product availability before doing so. If you want to get new coverage through the marketplace, be considered for a subsidy or change your plan choice between Open Enrollment periods, you must have a Qualifying Life Event and make the request typically during the first 60 days following the event.
What is a qualifying life event? Per the IRS, these changes in an insured’s life are the only reasons qualified to allow a change between annual enrollment periods: marriage, legal separation, death of spouse, divorce or annulment; changes in what dependents you are covering through birth, death or adoption, an eligible dependent (spouse or a young adult) losing or gaining other health coverage; if you move from one state to another; or have a change in your spouse’s benefits. The change you are making must be tied to the qualified reason.
Other Options In-Between Enrollment Periods
If you need health insurance between enrollment periods, either until a new employer’s or college’s kicks in, or because of other changing needs, consider a Short Term Health Plan. Today, all long term health plans offer essential benefits like preventive care, emergency services and drug coverage. But, it doesn’t make sense staying with an option that doesn’t fit your life in-between enrollment period.
Short Term Health Plans can be tailored to your needs and financial situation. They are typically more affordable than staying a COBRA offering or a long term plan. Short Term Health Plans are not purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace; they are available through independent brokers, like Custom Health Plans, or from some health plans directly. Please contact us or call 877.749.2241 to speak to a Custom Health Plan Specialist today!