Affordable Care Act
Five Crazy but Real Situations That Will Make You Want to Shop for Health Insurance
Published on June 18, 2014
Most of us only think about health insurance when we need it.
But, for millions who buy their own insurance or are uninsured, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes that reality because it established annual open enrollment periods when anyone can buy their own health insurance plan.
Sounds great, but outside of open enrollment, a person who buys their own health insurance (doesn’t get it from an employer or the government) can typically only sign up for a plan if they have a “qualifying life event.”
The last open enrollment period ended on March 31, 2014. Since then, shoppers at eHealth.com have been asked to provide their qualifying life event before they apply for a plan, and some of their responses were illuminating.**
Qualifying life event or not, there are countless reasons someone might wish they could change their health plan.
Think these would never apply to you? Think again!
Here are five crazy but real reasons why you would want to find a new health insurance plan.
1. You just got out of jail
Ever wondered what happens to prisoners who need healthcare after they get out of jail? Prisons offer healthcare to the incarcerated – but inmates are on their own after they’re released.
Buyer beware: Hopefully you won’t ever find yourself in this situation, but if you do, remember that getting released from prison is a qualifying life event (which means you can shop for health insurance outside of open enrollment).
2. You moved to the Philippines to start an orphanage
Everyone has a dream – perhaps it’s moving to another country or starting your own business. We heard from some visitors to our website who were looking for health insurance because they were pursing their life dream – but before walking away from an employer’s health plan, consult with your HR department to know what your options are for coverage.
3. Your bungee cord broke
Unexpected hospitalization is a huge motivator to score a health insurance policy. In fact, we heard from customers who had experienced an unexpected hospitalization and were seeking health insurance. However, you shouldn’t wait for that big ski, bungee jumping or cycling accident before shopping for a plan.
Buyer beware: Hospitalization is not a qualifying life event. If you want to protect yourself in the instance of an accident or unexpected hospitalization outside of the open enrollment period, you may have options.
4. You won the lottery
You struck it rich! Whether it’s the lottery, a new job or more hours at an existing job, every day there are Americans who are able to afford health insurance for the first time. In fact, having more money in their wallet was a reason cited by some of the visitors to our website. However, merely striking it reach is not a qualifying event.
Buyer beware: If you find yourself in a situation where you’re short on cash and can’t afford a major medical plan, you may still have options for coverage.
5. Your health plan is the world’s worst health plan
While you might not have hard evidence to back it up, what if you’re so unsatisfied with your insurance that it feels like it’s the world’s worst health plan? Some visitors to our website stated that they were searching for health insurance simply because they were unsatisfied with their plan.
Unfortunately, being unsatisfied with your current insurance is not a qualifying life event. With the new laws in place, your window for switching up your insurance is far more restricted. Choose wisely!
** The findings are based on data collected between April 1, 2014 and May 20, 2014 from eHealth shoppers who indicated that they had experienced a “major life change” (qualifying life event) , selected “Other” and were asked to describe their own qualifying event in a field provided.