Open Enrollment is over! As an insurance agent, this is where I give a big sigh of relief, but then cringe a little bit. It used to be that you could buy health insurance at any time. You could go to an insurance company and hopefully they would sell you a policy (but maybe they wouldn't). Now companies are required to sell you a policy, but you must buy your coverage during open enrollment or a special enrollment period.
Well, that's a pain. It makes it even more confusing and stressful for everyone. And if you didn't buy health insurance you may be up a creek without a paddle if you have a medical emergency.
So, what if you don't have coverage, but want to have some sort of protection?
Two categories of applicants are allowed to apply year round:
Medicaid Eligible with income less than $16,243 for an individual (currently 1.86 Million enrolled per hca.wa.gov)
American Indians/Alaska Natives with a tribal enrollment card (<2% WA population, per census.gov)
If you don't fall into either of these categories, a short term medical policy may be the answer for you. Policies start the day after you apply and can provide coverage until you are able to purchase a Qualified Health Plan. Short term plans are much more limited in coverage and do not cover pre-existing conditions, but can protect you during an interim period.
Click HERE to get a short term medical quote from LifeMap.
And finally, we all know that circumstances change. If you have a major life change you may qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP) to shop for health insurance mid-year. We will discuss what qualifies for an SEP in our next blog post.
The next open enrollment begins November 1, 2016, and the plans will be effective on January 1, 2017. Make a note of this!