Whether you obtain health insurance through your employer or buy your own coverage on a state exchange or the federal marketplace, you have more than a month to typically review your current health insurance plan and make changes for the following year. This is known as the regular open enrollment period, which usually runs at the end of the year. Once you decide on a plan, your are locked into your coverage for the next year, in most cases, unless you default on your payments.
However, just because the regular open enrollment season is closed doesn’t mean you can’t buy health insurance. There are many life circumstances that allow you to purchase a new health insurance plan or sign up for health insurance for the first time. Here are special chances when you can update your health insurance coverage.
- Lose your health insurance coverage from your employer
- Having your COBRA coverage expire
- Changes to your income that ultimately change your subsidy
- Newly married
- Have a new baby, adopt a child or take a child in for foster care
- Moved to a new ZIP code
- Change in family size
- Becoming a U.S. citizen
- Leaving incarceration
- Death of a member of your household
- Turning 26 or aging off a parent’s health plan
- Change of dependency of someone on a family health plan
Check with your employer about the rules of changing your health insurance midyear, as some many have slightly different restrictions. If you purchase your health insurance through a state exchange or the federal marketplace, you can’t delay, and must enroll within 60 days of your life event to qualify for the special open enrollment period.
Don’t Forget Supplemental Insurance
Having health insurance coverage doesn’t mean you can always afford to pay your medical bills. A high medical deductible requires individuals and families to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket before their health insurance kicks in. No matter when you sign up for a health insurance plan, either during regular open enrollment or the special open enrollment period, carrying an additional supplemental policy to help pay for the bumps and bruises of life until your medical deductible is met helps reduce the financial sting of health care.
Learn more about supplemental health insurance.