Open Enrollment Periods and Special Enrollment Periods
People can buy their health insurance policies, renew them, or change them during the open enrollment period every year (Insure.com 2018). People that enroll into them on their own during these periods can look for them “[from their] state’s health insurance marketplace… [directly] from a health insurance company,” “[from] websites like Insure.com that offers health insurance quotes from multiple carriers,” and “[from] a health insurance agent” (Insure.com 2018). People may have longer open enrollment periods, depending on their state. However, they cannot enroll or change policies and coverage once the period has passed, but, depending on their eligibility, the special enrollment period can give them another chance (Campbell 2018; Insure.com 2018).
States that have longer open enrollment periods benefit those who need more time to choose their policies. This year, the open enrollment period in most states generally lasts from November 1, 2018 to December 15, 2018 (Insure.com 2018). Other states may have longer periods. For instance, California’s period lasts from October 15, 2018 to January 15, 2019, while New York’s lasts from November 1, 2018 to January 31, 2019 (Insure.com 2018). Though, if people in those states enroll into policies later into the period, their health insurance may activate later (Insure.com 2018). In most states, when people buy policies by December 15, 2018, the policy would usually activate January 1, 2019, but in other states, for example, “[if people] buy after Dec. 15 [their] plan’s start date may be Feb. 1 or March 1, 2019” (Insure.com 2018; “When Is Open Enrollment for 2019?” 2018).
For people that miss open enrollment periods, they may enroll into or change their policies during the special enrollment period. To be eligible for these periods, they must experience events that usually involve “[loss] of eligibility for health coverage” and “[certain] life events,” such as “marriage, birth or adoption, death of a spouse or dependent, job loss, job change, retirement, reduction in work hours and relocation” (Campbell 2018). Though, New York allows women to “add or change coverage,” if they become pregnant (Campbell 2018). People who buy insurance from the Marketplace must provide evidence of these events to access the special enrollment period (Campbell 2018). These periods can last “60 days after the triggering event normally with the Marketplace” for those buying their own policies (Campbell 2018). Also, people must choose health insurance in relation to their qualifying event (Campbell 2018). For instance, a person that married someone can either buy their own plan or join their spouse’s plan (Campbell 2018). If a person previously received coverage through his or her spouse, who passed away, they can buy a new policy (Campbell 2018).
If they miss open enrollment periods and cannot access special enrollment periods, they have to keep their original policy or live without any “until the following enrollment period” (Campbell 2018). These periods are times when people can change to a better policy that could help them pay for their medical expenses.