When Is the Open Enrollment Period If I'm Buying Short Term Health Insurance?

Individual and Family

When Is the Open Enrollment Period If I'm Buying Short Term Health Insurance?

Published on June 04, 2018


Trick question: there is no open enrollment period for short term health insurance! The open enrollment period is intended for major medical, or Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant health insurance plans.
Short term health insurance plans, on the other hand, provide coverage for a limited period of time, and often start with little or no waiting period. You can thus sign up for them at any point in the year. For those who missed the ACA open enrollment period, short term health insurance is a great way to get some coverage for the time being.
What is the open enrollment period & what problems does it create?
The open enrollment period is a span of time in which individuals can sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The open enrollment period has changed in the years since the law was enacted in 2010. Those wishing to buy on the individual market should note that open enrollment has shortened in the past few years, and that certain states may have extensions. Individuals are not allowed to enroll in or make changes to their private health insurance plans outside of this period unless they go through certain life events, such as:

  • Getting married– Because married couples often join the same health-care plan, people with a health insurance plan are allowed to add a new spouse within a certain number of days. A newly married couple can also enroll in an entirely new policy if needed.
  • Having a baby– Parents almost always include their children in their health insurance, so if you’ve just had a baby, you can change to a family plan, or add your new child to your existing plan.
  • Divorce– If you need to make a change to your health insurance policy, or get a new one due to a divorce, this will usually trigger a special enrollment period.
  • Death-The passing of a family member (whether a dependent or a spouse) can result in a special enrollment period – for example, if you were enrolled in a group plan based on your spouse’s employment.

The open enrollment creates a serious problem: many Americans don’t know when the open enrollment period is. This means that millions of people are at risk of missing out on health insurance each year, simply because they don’t know to sign up at the right time.
Short term health insurance plans help resolve this issue. You can enroll in short term coverage throughout the year, without having to keep in mind when an open enrollment period begins or ends.   So even if you missed the deadline and don’t have a qualifying life event, short term provides a temporary form of health insurance for times when you have gaps in coverage.
Why else should I know about short term health insurance?
In addition to having no open enrollment period, short term health insurance offers a number of other benefits, including:

  • Quick approval– Traditional health insurance plans take several weeks to go into effect. But when you sign up for a short term health insurance policy, your coverage will begin in a matter of days or even hours. This means that if you unexpectedly lose your insurance, you can get protected again without skipping a beat.
  • Simple registration– Short term health insurance plans are among the easiest to understand and sign up for. This further speeds up the process of getting covered, and it may lower the chance that you’ll misunderstand something and make the wrong coverage decision.
  • Affordable access – Short term health insurance policies are among the most affordable insurance options on the market. Of course, this is linked to the fact that they provide more limited coverage than traditional plans. But if you’re having trouble affording any type of insurance, they’re the most likely to fit within your budget.

What else should I know about short term health insurance?

  • Be aware that short term health insurance includes limited coverage. It won’t cover everything that a major medical health insurance plan typically covers, and it doesn’t meet Affordable Care Act standards.  But it can provide coverage if you have a medical emergency.
  • Short term insurance plans coverage ends after 90 days.
  • If you have a pre-existing health condition, the plan might not cover it.

eHealth is committed to helping all Americans get the coverage they need at a cost they can afford. For more information on short term health insurance and other options for yourself, your family, or your business, visit our website today.

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