It’s December 16th, 2017 and you wake up in a state of panic. You’ve missed the Open Enrollment Period by a few hours, and you don’t know what to do. Take a deep breath, brew a cup of coffee, and get ready to do some reading! Today, we’re going to explore some health insurance alternatives.
Many young adults fail to realize they can utilize their parent’s health insurance plan. If you’re under the age of 26 and still live at home, it’s possible to opt into your mother or father’s plan. Naturally, it’s better if you ask their permission beforehand, and we always recommend reading the fine print to fully understand the terms of the agreement.
If you’ve experienced a life-changing event, then you can purchase a health program during the Open Enrollment Period. Instead, you’ll have to enroll for special enrollment, which involves filling out a form on HealthCare.gov.
In the insurance world, when individuals or households experience a life-changing event, it’s called a qualifying event. We’ve written down the basic examples below:
- Getting married
- Having a baby or adopting a child
- Getting a divorce or separation
- Moving to a new ZIP code
- Losing your job
It’s important to note that you have 60 days after the qualifying event to apply for special enrollment; otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the next Open Enrollment Period. Once you get approval, you can then shop around for a plan either in the state-based exchange or the federal marketplace (depending on where you live.)
Say you can’t afford to purchase a health insurance plan during the Open Enrollment Period, what do you do? Medicaid is a federal program that provides basic health care coverage to millions of impoverished Americans. While the program is fully funded by Washington DC, each state has control over the program.
What does this mean? Depending on where you live, the criteria to qualify for the program may be different. There’s also no Open Enrollment Period for Medicaid, meaning Americans can apply throughout the year. According to recent estimates, more than 74 million individuals utilize both Medicaid and CHIP, which we’re going to discuss in the next section.
This program is similar to Medicaid, but it focuses solely on providing low-cost health insurance to children and teens. Families who don’t qualify for Medicaid often use this program, which covers basic health and dental coverage. Just like Medicaid, you don’t need to wait for the Open Enrollment Period.
If you don’t qualify for special enrollment or one of the federal programs mentioned above, you can always apply for a short-term plan. These plans are sold through private insurance companies and are useful if there’s a medical emergency.
Although, it’s important to note these types of plans only last up to three months, so this is not a long-term solution. Many Americans are opting for short-term medical insurance because it’s affordable compared to the skyrocketing Obamacare premiums.