Health Insurance Open Enrollment Deadlines
For most people, health insurance open enrollment or re-enrollment is an annual adventure. What happens if you miss the deadline? Deadlines have been narrowed. This year it’s December 7th, 2018. You have been on an Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plan, but you blew it.
Panic sets in, followed by frustration. Now what can you do?
Well, you have some options, but they could be limited:
- Native American, you’re in. Open all year long.
- Eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, you’re in too. Open all year long.
- Apply for a short-term health plan for up to a year, maybe even 36 months.
- Become eligible with a “qualifying event” and enjoy a “Special Enrollment Period.” Moving used to qualify, but not anymore unless you’re on a plan already.
So now you’re thinking you’ll just get one of those short-term plans. Their terms and conditions are different from normal ACA qualified plans that you obtain through employer or individual plans bought on an exchange. By the way, six states which now includes Hawaii now don’t offer short-term plans.
Short-term plans do offer some coverage that approaches normal health plans but there are downsides:
- No premium subsidies like those available for ACA plans.
- Lifetime limits like the old days, anywhere from $50,000 to $2million.
- Loss of a short-term policy is not a qualifying event to get you back on an ACA plan.
- Does not cover pre-existing conditions.
- Doesn’t cover maternity, mental health or preventative care like check-ups.
- Doesn’t have prescription benefits.
- Doesn’t qualify for minimum essential coverage so when you go back on an ACA plan there could be a penalty.
Depressed? Don’t be. There are some positives to short-term plans and include:
- Simple enrollment application, usually online.
- Lower premiums in most cases (you get what you pay for).
- Limited medical questions and underwriting.
- Don’t have to follow ACA rules.
- Better than being uninsured, especially going into the emergency room where the first question is “what is your medical coverage?”
So, we hope you will meet employer or individual ACA open enrollment deadlines this season. But if not, you do have some limited options using a short-term plan.