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You're eligible to buy health insurance after a major life event.
The Special Enrollment Period lets you buy coverage outside of the typical enrollment window
Eligibility requires a qualifying life event
The Special Enrollment Period typically ends 60 days after the life event
Special Enrollment Period is a period outside of Open Enrollment when you shop for and buy health insurance. You must have a qualifying life event in order to be eligible to buy a plan during this time. Special Enrollment Periods typically start on the day of the qualifying event and end 60 days after the qualifying event.
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If you don’t have insurance coverage and want to buy a health plan you can do so from the official health insurance marketplace (either a state or federal exchange).
If you need an individual health insurance policy, you typically sign up for during Open Enrollment, a 45-day period designated for shopping for health insurance. The next Open Enrollment window for marketplace coverage begins November 1, 2019, for a health insurance plan that begins January 1, 2020.
If you get coverage through a group health plan from your employer, you don’t have to wait for the enrollment period.
Outside of this initial enrollment period, you can’t buy an individual health plan unless you experience a qualifying life event (QLE), which is a major change in your life. (We’ll get into examples of specific events below.)
After you experience a qualifying life event, you’ll be granted a short time frame to buy health insurance. This time frame is called the Special Enrollment Period.
You usually have 30 to 60 days to enroll in a health plan after a qualifying event. You can check with your state or federal exchange for the exact time frame.
The most common qualifying life events are a loss of coverage or change in your household or status. You can use the questionnaire on healthcare.gov to see if you’re eligible for the Special Enrollment Period. Here are some common examples:
Health insurance can help pay for your medical expenses.
Health insurance coverage pays for medical expenses you can't afford out of pocket.
If you need health coverage, but don’t foresee a life event that will trigger the Special Enrollment Period, there are a few alternatives to a traditional health plan you might consider. You could buy short-term health insurance, a flexible plan that usually lasts only a few months. This type of plan may not provide extensive coverage, like a prescription drug plan or cover all health issues, so it is best as a temporary solution until Open Enrollment begins. Additionally, it does not qualify as minimum essential coverage, so you may have to pay a tax penalty for not having proper health insurance.
Technically not a health plan, a limited benefit plan will cover a part of your health care costs when you suffer from a medical event like a hospital visit. There might be restrictions to this health coverage if you have a pre-existing condition.
Health insurance and life insurance work together to offer financial protection.
Health insurance can pay your medical expenses. Life insurance keeps your loved ones whole after you die.
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by a certified financial planner or advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal, financial, or investment advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
This post contains references to products or services from one or more of Policygenius' advertisers or partners. While these codes earn us a small fee at no additional cost to you, they do not influence editorial content and we only refer products we love.
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Yes, we have to include some legalese down here. Read it larger on our legal page. Policygenius Inc. (“Policygenius”) is a licensed independent insurance broker. Policygenius does not underwrite any insurance policy described on this website. The information provided on this site has been developed by Policygenius for general informational and educational purposes. We do our best efforts to ensure that this information is up-to-date and accurate. Any insurance policy premium quotes or ranges displayed are non-binding. The final insurance policy premium for any policy is determined by the underwriting insurance company following application. Savings are estimated by comparing the highest and lowest price for a shopper in a given health class. For example: for a 30-year old non-smoker male in South Carolina with excellent health and a preferred plus health class, comparing quotes for a $500,000, 20-year term life policy, the price difference between the lowest and highest quotes is 60%. For that same shopper in New York, the price difference is 40%. Rates are subject to change and are valid as of 2/17/17.
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