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How to Change Your Health Insurance
Most adults (over 26 in this case) receive health insurance through their employer or through a plan they have signed up for outside of their employer (including through the ACA). It’s most common to change insurance policies—or providers—during Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment is the time of the year during which nearly all insurance providers allow their customers to switch from any insurance policy to another. To change insurance outside of Open Enrollment, you’ll need to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Changing Policies During Open Enrollment
Find out the dates for Open Enrollment.During the Open Enrollment 45-day window, you can change your health insurance without penalty. The specific dates for your insurance company’s Open Enrollment period may vary, but they usually last from the beginning of November to mid-December.
- Contact your insurance provider’s Customer Service department to find out the exact dates of Open Enrollment.
Review the available policies.Insurance companies are usually proactive, and will notify their clients about an upcoming Open Enrollment period by providing clients with information regarding available policies. Look through the options until you find a policy that suits your needs. For example, some policies may cover more of your prescription drug fees, while others will offer a low premium.
- If your company does not send you information regarding policies, reach out to their Customer Service department via phone or email.
- Keep in mind that the cheapest (i.e. low-premium) insurance plan isn’t always the best option. Cheap plans often come with higher deductibles and co-pays than plans with lower premiums.
Select a policy.Once you’ve reviewed the various policies your insurance provider offers, you’ll need to choose a specific policy. When choosing a policy, take into account how much money per month you can afford to pay towards the premium. Consider other aspects too: for example, if you know in advance that you’ll need frequent prescriptions, select a policy that covers most or all prescription medication costs.
- Keep in mind that you’ll be unable to change this policy until the next Open Enrollment period comes around. If you miss the deadline or forget to sign up altogether, you may be stuck with a tax penalty for not having health insurance.
- However, many insurance companies will simply re-enroll you for another year of your current policy by continuing to bill you for the coverage. In this case, you won’t face a tax penalty unless you cancel the plan and do not re-enroll.
Changing Policies Outside of Open Enrollment
Look into the qualifications for a Special Enrollment Period.A Special Enrollment Period is the only way for you to change your insurance outside of Open Enrollment. Your insurance company’s exact qualifications to justify a Special Enrollment Period will vary, but generally include:
- Marriage, divorce, or legal separation.
- Loss of a job.
- Birth of a child.
- Death of a spouse.
Contact your insurance company if you qualify.If you have recently had a life event that does qualify you for a Special Enrollment, contact your HR representative (if your insurance is through your employer) or your health insurance representative to ask for information regarding insurance policies that you could switch to.
- Some insurance companies may allow Special Enrollment for less common life events, such as attaining citizenship.
Provide documents proving the life event.Depending on the life event which has prompted you to seek a Special Enrollment Period, your insurance company may ask you for documentation which verifies the event. This will help the company avoid handing out Special Enrollment Periods for fraudulent life-event claims.
- For example, if you’ve had a child, your insurance company will likely need to receive a copy of the birth certificate.
Select a new insurance policy within 30 days.Generally, a Special Enrollment Period will last for 30 days. Take this time to review the available insurance-policy options through your provider. Select a plan that meets your insurance needs: if you can’t pay much towards a monthly bill, choose a plan with a low premium. Or, if you know you need a specific type of coverage (e.g. frequent tests for a pre-existing medical condition), choose a plan that will pay for the tests. Make your decision before the 30 days expires, and your insurance policy change will be complete.
- You’ll need to notify the insurance company of your decision in order for the policy change to go into effect. You should be able to notify them either online or over the phone.
- There may be serious consequences if you do not select a new policy before the Special Enrollment period ends. For example, if you had been insured through your employer, and then lost your job and didn’t select a new insurance option during Special Enrollment, you would end up uninsured and likely face a tax penalty.
Changing Insurance Through the ACA
Change your policy between November 1 and December 15.This is the 45-day Open Enrollment window given through the ACA. During this period, you can review and change policies without penalty.
- The new policy that you select will come into effect on January 1 of the following year.
Log in to the ACA website to change your policy.Use your web browser to navigate to: . Enter your personal login information, and then click on “My Plans & Programs.”From here, you’ll be able to review your current health-insurance policy.
- If you don’t already have an account on the ACA website, create an account by clicking on “Create One” on the main ACA page. Follow the prompts to input your personal location and other information.
Click on “Change Plans” to review other insurance policies.This option will bring up information regarding insurance policies that you can select in place of your current policy. Once you find an insurance policy that you would like to change to, click on “Change Health Plan.” From there, you’ll need to follow the prompts as given by the website.
- Select a plan based on your financial status and your health needs. For example, make sure that premiums will be within your monthly budget. If you have any health conditions (or if you anticipate becoming pregnant while insured), select a plan that will accommodate these conditions.
- You can select any of the other available insurance options, as long as you originally signed up for your plan through the ACA site.
Apply for a Special Enrollment Period.If you have recently gone through a serious life event (e.g., divorce, marriage, death of a spouse, birth of a child), you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. Navigate to and fill out the linked application.Without being granted a Special Enrollment Period, you will not be able to change your ACA insurance outside of an Open Enrollment window.
- Insurance plans purchased through Affordable Care Act (ACA) will give a 60-day Special Enrollment Period.
- For clarification regarding qualifying for a Special Enrollment Period, contact the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.
- If you receive your health insurance through Medicare, Open Enrollment ends early: on December 7. Medicare also allows you to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan (a privately managed alternative to traditional Medicare) during its Open Enrollment period.
Video: Healthcare Marketplace 2019 Enrollment - Can I Change My Health Insurance Plan After Enrollment?
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