If you’re shopping for your own health insurance, here’s each step of the application process.
Open Enrollment Starts October 15, in California, and November 1, everywhere else.
When you shop for health coverage, understanding the health insurance application process can help you understand when you can start to use your benefits. Watch this video to understand the basics of enrolling in health insurance, and read on to get a step-by-step outline.
Here are four simple steps that outline the process of buying a health insurance plan in some cases. We all know that life isn’t so simple, and the step-by-step process doesn’t look the same for everyone, but read on to see a general outline of what buying insurance can look like. Keep in mind that these steps can vary by state, product, and time of year you are shopping.
Step 1: Shop and Estimate
Shop our leading selection of health plans.
Anyone can enroll in coverage for themselves or their family during the nationwide open enrollment period. However, if you are shopping outside of open enrollment, you may only be able to purchase a major medical plan if you have a qualifying life event.
Qualifying life events include things like marriage or divorce, the birth or adoption of a child, moving to a new coverage area, or the loss of other forms of qualifying coverage – like employer-based coverage.
If your qualifying life event is loss of employment (and you lost your coverage under their group plan) then you can use eHealth as a resource to find coverage.
What if I’m told I need Medicaid?
If a website or agent suggests you are eligible for Medicaid, keep in mind that your eligibility may change if your income changes. If you don’t want to enroll in Medicaid, you are not required to. Come to eHealth and see prices on individual and family plans, as well as alternative such as short term health insurance.
You can shop for individual and family plans as well as supplemental health insurance products on eHealth.com. If you qualify for government subsidies, eHealth can help you apply for them in most cases.
If you missed the open enrollment deadline and have not experience a qualifying life event, then you can search for alternative products such as short-term health insurance, medical insurance packages, or other supplemental insurance products like accident or critical illness insurance.
Medical Insurance Packages
Many people create their own personal insurance package by purchasing a combination of these products. Read more about pre-determined medical insurance package here.
Step 2: Apply and Enroll
Once you’ve found the plan that’s right for you and your family, you can complete the application to enroll. Review your results and enrollment details before submitting your final enrollment. You may find it helpful to keep family dates of birth and other information handy when completing your enrollment forms.
Step 3: Make your First Payment
Once your application for health coverage has been submitted, you’ll need to make your first payment before your coverage can begin.
If you are buying an alternative or supplemental health insurance product, make sure you understand how the payments work. The process varies for different products. Also, understand that certain non-insurance products are different from an ACA qualifying plan or a Major Medical plan—they are not actual insurance and are only meant as a supplement or short-term solution.
In most cases, you will be prompted to enter your credit card information for your first payment, and that information will be passed by eHealth to the insurance company. If your insurance company is not set up to take online payments, eHealth will email you the information you need to make your first payment.
Step 4: Cards and Coverage
Once you’ve enrolled and made your first payment it can take about 3 weeks, for your application to be processed. If you applied for major medical health insurance and your enrollment was received in the first fifteen days of the month, your coverage will typically begin on the first day of the following month.
The Date of Application Impacts Enrollment Dates
If your application and payment for a major medical (Obamacare plan) is received on the 16th day of the month or later, your coverage will generally begin on the first day of the month after next.
You will receive your insurance cards and a welcome package in the mail along with a copy of your insurance policy after you’ve been approved.
Enrollment Dates for Flexible Products (Short-Term Medical, Medical Insurance Packages)
For these flexible insurance products, which are designed to function as affordable alternatives to major medical (Obamacare plans), enrollment dates may vary, based on the insurance company and the date in which you apply.
In many instances, enrollment and coverage can begin within 10 days or less of your first payment.