How to Get Health Insurance After Open Enrollment

Enrollment periods for health insurance are those times in a year when you can enroll in insurance. Let’s look at some important details.

What Are the Kinds of Enrollment Periods?

Open enrollment. Every health insurance provider has an open enrollment period, when you can get a policy. The periods can be different, so check the included times first. However, they all follow an open enrollment season declared by the state government.

Special enrollment. Certain qualifying events allow you to enroll outside of the open enrollment period. This is called special enrollment. We will look at those qualifying events later on.

How Long is the Open Enrollment Period?

Open enrollment usually lasts about one-and-a-half months. However, a few states have more than one open enrollment period, clustered closely together. They are usually around the end of the year or the start of the next.

How To Get Health Insurance After Open Enrollment

To get health insurance after open enrollment, you need to qualify for a special enrollment period. This happens when a qualifying event, usually beyond your control, makes it necessary for you to reapply for health insurance. You are often given a 60-day period in which to enroll again.

What are these qualifying life events?

Losing your current health insurance. If you lose your current individual health insurance policy, you can apply for special enrollment in your state.

Losing or changing employment. If your health insurance is provided by your company, your new company can register you through special enrollment, or you can buy your own policy.

Getting married / legally separated / divorced. You may either need to update your beneficiaries and coverage, or you may even lose your coverage if it came through a spouse and you are now separated. These qualify you to reapply for health insurance.

Losing health insurance through a family member or guardian. If you were listed as a dependent and the family member lost his or her job or you no longer qualify as a dependent, you qualify for the special enrollment period.

Changing the number of children in your household. Whether you had or adopted a child, or placed a child out for foster care, you can change your insurance policy as needed through special enrollment.

Moving to a new home / school / workplace. Since health insurance providers tend to be region-based, you may lose health coverage once you change your zip code or county. Your region might also change if you live in one part of the country but study in another, or if you are a seasonal or traveling worker. Any change of address that will cause you to lose health insurance is a qualifying event.

Moving to the United States from a foreign country or US territory. If you entered the United States outside the open enrollment period, you also qualify for the 60 days’ special enrollment. You don’t need to have had prior health insurance before enrolling.

Health Insurance Enrollment

The special enrollment period is designed to help you if you lose your health insurance coverage for reasons that are mostly beyond your control. To summarize:

Open enrollment period: First-time enrollment, change of insurance provider, renewal of policies.

Special enrollment period: Qualifying events beyond your immediate control that cause a loss or absence of health insurance.

As much as possible, plan for open enrollment season for the least hassle. Should you absolutely need health insurance, you can also look into short term health insurance policies.

James Donaldson

I like to blog about insurance, health and the great outdoors. Memphis born and raised.