The Obamacare Open Enrollment Period ended about a month and a half ago, and many people still find themselves without health insurance. Some may not be able to comfortably afford a plan, couldn’t make a decision on what to buy, and maybe some just plain forgot. Now many people find themselves wondering how to go about getting health insurance outside of Open Enrollment.
Qualifying Life Event
In order to enroll in a major medical plan outside of Open Enrollment, individuals must have a qualifying life event, such as getting married, having a baby, moving to a new state, and other scenarios. When such an event occurs, this triggers a Special Enrollment Period, allowing someone to enroll in a plan.
If a qualifying life event does not occur, but someone is still interested in getting health insurance, there is an alternative. Short-term health insurance has some key differences from major medical health insurance, but still offers some great benefits to tide a person over until they can get other coverage.
Short-term Health Insurance
A short-term plan will function similarly to a major medical plan. When reviewing available plans, there is a breakdown of deductible and copayment amounts, maximum coverage limits, etc. available for each plan. They will vary by plan, which provides the health insurance shopper with many options. If someone is just looking for basic coverage that protects against big, unexpected emergencies, there will be a plan that works well for that scenario. Others who know that they will want copayments for office visits and prescriptions can find a plan to fit those needs as well.
Regardless of why someone cannot enroll in a major medical plan, one of the biggest benefits of a short-term plan is that it typically costs much less than a major medical plan. As with any plan, prices will increase with a short-term plan as the coverage amount increases. For instance, a low deductible will likely result in a higher premium. This is the case with virtually any type of plan. The more protection you have, the more it costs. Again, though, generally speaking you will pay less for a short-term plan than for a major medical plan.
These plans are no doubt helpful when traditional major medical insurance is not an option, and some people may even prefer a short-term plan over major medical. However, as its name implies, short-term insurance is not intended to be a permanent insurance solution. For this reason, many plans are only available up to a year. However long the term, once the plan ends, it must be reapplied for. There is no guarantee it will be approved.
Another key factor to note when considering this insurance is the fact that pre-existing conditions are not covered. If someone applying for a plan has diabetes, anything related to that condition will not be covered. However, even without pre-existing conditions being covered, new conditions will be. Having protection for new ailments is definitely more than anyone would have without any sort of health insurance, and that’s important to remember.
Finally, remember that you are required to have an Affordable Care Act-compliant health plan. Short-term health insurance plans do not fall into this category, so depending on your specific situation, you may face a penalty at tax time for not having ACA-compliant health insurance.
Whatever the reason you can’t get major medical insurance, keep short-term plans in mind. They definitely offer enough coverage to tide you over until you can get a major medical plan, and you can select the amount of coverage that works best for you. The benefits of short-term plans definitely outweigh the cons of not having any health insurance.