Having health insurance is one of the smartest moves you can make financially. Not only does health insurance help protect you and your family’s health; it helps protect your financial security.
An unexpected injury or illness can throw both your health and finances for a loop, and that is the last thing you need. (Did you know that unpaid medical bills are one of the leading causes* of personal bankruptcy in the United States?)
If you’re looking for health insurance for the rest of the year, you still have options even though Open Enrollment has ended.
Full health insurance
Have things changed for you? You may be able to apply for new individual or family health insurance if you have had a Qualifying Life Event.
A Qualifying Life Event is a change that affects the type or amount of insurance you need.
The most common Qualifying Life Events are:
- Change to family status, such as marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child
- Involuntary loss of other coverage (from changing jobs or losing coverage through a spouse, for example)
- Substantial changes to your income
- Moving to a new area not served by your current plan
- Changes to citizenship status
- Aging off of a parent’s plan – once a child reaches the age of 26, they are no longer able to be a dependent on a parent’s plan.
If you experience one of these events, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, and you could apply for new coverage within 60 days from the date of the event.
The effective date of your new coverage will depend on your particular circumstances, but in general if you apply before the 15th of the month, your coverage would begin on the first of the following month.
Short term insurance
If you are not eligible for a Special Enrollment Period for full insurance, your best option is to enroll in a short-term health plan for the rest of the year.
- Short-term plans keep you from having to pay the full cost of care of unexpected care if you have an accident or serious illness.
- Plans are often very affordable and you can usually have your application approved in just a few days, and your coverage can start shortly after that.
- It’s important to note that short-term plans don’t cover all the things that full health insurance covers, such as preventive care, physicals, vaccinations, or dental or vision. They also may not cover care for pre-existing conditions.
It may be tempting to enroll in a short-term plan instead of full health insurance because they are often less expensive.
However, coverage is more limited, and short-term plans do not meet the coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which means you may still have to pay a fine for not having full health insurance. If you have the option of full health insurance instead of short term, you should choose that.
It can be tricky to figure out which health insurance is right for you. Fortunately, there are some great resources to help you navigate your options and sort through all the choices to get the plan that’s right for you.
The ConnectedHealth Marketplace offers health plans from a range of carriers, and their easy insurance shopping site and guidance by licensed agents can make quick work of getting your health insurance nailed down.
You’ll have peace of mind that you don’t have unnecessary financial risk, and you can move on to focus on the things that really matter.
*LaMontagne, Christina. “NerdWallet Health Finds Medical Bankruptcy Accounts for Majority of Personal Bankruptcies.” NerdWallet. March 26, 2014.