Special enrollment periods – because ‘life happens’

Open enrollment for 2017 coverage is closed, but you may still be eligible for ACA-compliant coverage if you have a qualifying life event

Democrats in Congress should consider pushing for a vetting of the Cassidy-Collins bill if only to keep Republicans from signing on to a swift gutting of ACA funding via budget reconciliation.

New in our Repeal and Replace section: I was spanked by a Nun on the Bus,
from Andrew Sprung

Open enrollment for 2017 ended on January 31 – and for most people, that’s not great news, namely because your opportunity to purchase ACA-compliant health insurance on the individual market will be very limited starting February 1 and until the start of the next enrollment period.

But if you didn’t get coverage during open enrollment – and don’t have coverage now – it doesn’t mean you’re out of options.

Because ‘life happens’

When the ACA was written, lawmakers understood the importance of limiting enrollment to specific times of the year. But they also understood that some life-changing events warrant the ability to enroll in a new health plan.

Life happens. Your coverage may end for a reason as common as leaving your job – or you may need to change your coverage for other obvious reasons: a new baby, marriage, or moving to a new home. It wouldn’t make sense to force people to wait until the following January to gain coverage under a new plan following a cross-country move, or to enroll their newborn in a health plan.

If you’re not certain whether you have a qualifying life event, you’re in luck. Louise Norris – our expert on all things open enrollment – has a great overview of all the ways you might still be able to get coverage (ACA-compliant or not) to protect your health and financial well being for the coming year. Oh, and also, you may not even need a special enrollment period.

No qualifying event? No exemption?

If you didn’t enroll by January 31 – and aren’t expecting a qualifying event later in the year – your options for the rest of 2017 will be limited to policies that are not regulated by the ACA. This includes short-term health insurance, some limited-benefit plans, accident supplements, critical/specific-illness policies, dental/vision plans, and medical discount plans.

For a primer on whether short-term health insurance is a good option for you, read this comprehensive overview. Short-term coverage is the closest thing you can get to “real” health insurance if you find yourself needing to purchase a policy outside of open enrollment without a qualifying event.

About healthinsurance.org

At healthinsurance.org, we don’t sell insurance, but we do partner with qualified call centers staffed with agents who are both licensed in your state and exchange-certified. These partnerships also allow us to deliver health insurance quotes quickly and easily.

Since 1994, this site has been a guide for consumers seeking straightforward explanations about the workings of individual health insurance – also known as medical insurance – and help finding affordable coverage.

The topic of insurance can be confusing, but we’re here with more information than ever: educational articles, expert health policy analysisfrequently asked questions about reform, a health insurance glossary, and guides to the healthcare marketplaces and other insurance resources in each state.

Don’t hesitate to let us know if you hit a snag in the process – or if you’re stumped by a question about health coverage. Of course, we’d also love to hear about your success in getting coverage and quality healthcare.

But today, with the complexities of premium subsidies, cost-sharing subsidies, penalties – and now qualifying events and special enrollment periods – it’s a smart move to talk to a professional who can help minimize your cost and maximize your benefits, and save you research time. Call the number at the top of this page to get free assistance.