Affordable Care Act

Purchasing Health Insurance Outside of Open Enrollment for Obamacare

Updated on November 14, 2019


Outside of open enrollment for Obamacare, your ability to purchase health insurance may vary from state to state. It may be limited to the occurrence of a qualifying event, such as the loss of a job, a marriage or divorce, a move, or the birth of a child.

Purchasing health insurance after a qualifying event

If you experience a qualifying life event such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, moving to a new city, etc., you may qualify to purchase Obamacare-compliant health insurance coverage outside of the nationwide open enrollment period. To review your options, work with a licensed health insurance agent like eHealth and review your personalized quotes.

Purchasing health insurance without a qualifying event

Without a qualifying life event, you may be able to purchase a non-compliant plan or a short-term health insurance plan, but you should know that these won’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act and their benefits will likely not be as comprehensive. You will also have to pay the tax penalty if you’re not enrolled in health reform-compliant health insurance.

Short-term health insurance

If you need to fill a gap in your coverage to tide you over until the next open enrollment period, consider short-term coverage. Short-term health insurance products are designed to provide consumers with protections against unforeseen medical bills, typically for a period of between 1 and 12 months. Short-term plans are not major medical health insurance plans.
Short-term plans typically don’t provide coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, preventive medical care, or prescription drugs. However, they’re often easier to qualify for, tend to be relatively affordable, and often meet the temporary coverage needs of many consumers.
Short-term health insurance products don’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, and therefore do not comply with the individual mandate to have health insurance. This means that buying short-term health insurance won’t exempt you from the tax penalty.

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