It is a relatively short window, but it is a window that remains open for around 15 percent of the year. Winter holiday distractions can make the relatively short window much shorter. Combined with the relatively short window is a marketing campaign that does not seem to reach the right target audience before the time comes to enroll in a program meant to protect the health of the millions of Americans that need to buy health insurance.
We are talking about the open enrollment period that is part of one of the most historic and comprehensive programs established by the United States federal government.
In March 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which represented the most sweeping legislation ever passed by the United States Congress to address the wide gap between Americans that purchase health insurance coverage and Americans that lived without healthcare protection. One of the most integral components of the landmark law concerns the establishment of an open enrollment period, which allows Americans to purchase health insurance coverage from a nationally established marketplace.
The 2023 open enrollment period runs between November 1 and January 15 of the following year, except in states that have established a local marketplace to purchase health insurance coverage. If you missed signing up for health insurance coverage during the nearly six-week window, do you have other opportunities to purchase health insurance coverage?
The answer is yes, and here are your options.
Insurance Broker Hub
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Special Enrollment Period
The ACA takes into consideration several factors that can prevent you from enrolling in a health insurance plan offered under the federally-run open marketplace. Whether your healthcare needs suddenly change or an employer drops health insurance coverage as a benefit. You can still enroll in a federally-sponsored health insurance program by applying to qualify for health insurance during a special enrollment period.
To be eligible for health insurance coverage during a special enrollment period, you must meet the standards that define a qualifying life event. A qualifying life event represents a significant event that changes your health insurance coverage status.
The most common reason to apply for eligibility during a special enrollment period concerns a change in your household status, such as a change in marital status or the welcoming of a baby into your family. An unexpected change in residence represents another common reason why you might qualify for health insurance during a special enrollment period. If you lose coverage, which happens most often with employer-backed plans, you should be able to purchase health insurance during a special enrollment period. Other less frequent reasons for applying for special enrollment status include becoming an American citizen, starting or ending service in a national volunteer program such as AmeriCorps, or gaining membership in a federally recognized Native American tribe.
Submit an application for health insurance offered during a special enrollment period to start the qualification process.
Medicare, which is the federally run health insurance program for eligible seniors, also offers a special enrollment period for Americans that fail to sign up for the program during the open enrollment period. If you fail to enroll during the initial eligibility period that runs for seven months after the date when you become eligible for Medicare, you can buy or make changes to a Medicare health insurance program between October 15 and December 7 of every year. Between January 1 and March 31 of each year, you can enroll in Medicare Part B if you missed the initial enrollment period after turning the qualifying age of 65.
Review the eligibility requirements to see if you qualify for health insurance coverage during a special Medicare enrollment period.
Income-Based Health Insurance
You can sign up for a federally-managed health insurance program such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any point during the year. If you qualify to receive income-based health insurance that is managed by the federal government, you can receive benefits immediately after meeting the criteria for enrollment. You answer a few questions on the healthcare.gov website before getting approved to enroll in a federally-managed, income-based health insurance program.
The Bottom Line: Missing Open Enrollment
These are the four most common ways to receive health insurance coverage after missing the short window offered by the open enrollment period. You also can purchase a short-term health insurance policy or receive supplemental health insurance coverage that covers the costs your current plan does not cover. Although purchasing health insurance coverage can put a huge dent in the family budget, the cost of not having health insurance coverage is much higher.
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