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So you are on vacation, taking a long winter’s nap or just not paying attention to the fact that you are now required by law to buy health insurance.  And, according to all of your friends and everyone you talked with, now you can’t buy health insurance because open enrollment ended February 15th.  Well, that’s not really true because here are some qualifying events that will allow you to buy health insurance after open enrollment has closed:

  • If you have lost your employer-sponsored health insurance
  • If your employer cancelled health insurance
  • If you’ve moved from one geographic location to another and your old health insurance plan doesn’t offer coverage in your new location
  • If you’re recently married
  • If you lose health insurance through a divorce
  • If you’re adopting a child or have a child born
  • If you’re economic circumstances have changed significantly from last year to this year and you cannot afford your previous health insurance plan

These are all qualifying events that would allow you to qualify for an on-exchange or off-exchange health insurance plan after the open enrollment period has closed.  And, if none of the above apply to you and you really were taking a long winter’s nap or just not paying attention, yes, you still have to pay the penalty but you can buy a short term health insurance policy that will cover you in the event of a catastrophic illness until open enrollment opens next year.  These short term plans are fairly inexpensive and offered by major carriers like Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Assurant as well as others.  They are the proverbial “if I get hit by a bus” policy, which means no doctor office copays or prescription drug coverage but they are real health insurance with real provider networks that can keep you from bankruptcy should you have a major medical expense.

So, if you missed the boat and didn’t get signed up during open enrollment, you still have a way to obtain health insurance either through a qualifying event or through one of these short term policies.

Cary Hall

America’s Healthcare Advocate