Get Health Insurance Outside of Open Enrollment If You Have a Qualifying Event.
Life can be exciting yet challenging. Not everyone needs health insurance during open enrollment. So what happens when you lose a job and the health benefits that come with it? Moved? Got married or had a baby? The healthcare special enrollment period is for times like these.
Outside open enrollment you can sign up for health insurance with a qualified life event. This is like a valid ticket that allows you or a qualified family member to enroll for an individual or family health plan.
These are just some of the more common qualifying life events. Consumers can click here to read more
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Signing Up for Health Insurance or Changing Health Insurance Plans After a Qualifying Life Event
Consumers have 60 days from the date on which the qualifying life event happens to enroll in a Covered California health insurance plan or change their existing Covered California plan. For example, if a consumer has a child on June 1, they have until July 31 to notify Covered California, complete an application for their new child, choose a health plan and pay for it. If they do not get health coverage for their child, they may have to pay a tax penalty.
If 60 days pass and consumers do not sign up for health coverage, they will have to wait until the next open enrollment period.
Keep in mind that consumers can enroll in Medi-Cal at any time. They do not need a special enrollment period to enroll in Medi-Cal. To find out if they are eligible or someone in their family is eligible for Medi-Cal, they should complete the online application by clicking on "Apply".
How to Enroll After a Qualifying Life Event
For many qualifying life events, consumers can enroll online. They can also call the Covered California Service Center at (800) 300-1506. Service Center representatives can answer any questions consumers have about a qualifying life event and can help them enroll in or change health insurance plans.
Avoiding Gaps in Coverage
Consumers will need to plan ahead to avoid gaps in health coverage. It helps to know that in general, the start date for coverage depends on the date of enrollment. If consumers enroll by the 15th day of the month, their coverage will start on the first day of the next month. If consumers enroll after the 15th day of the month, their coverage will start on the first day of the second month. For example, if consumers enroll on June 13, their coverage will start on July 1. If they enroll on June 16, their coverage will start August 1. Consumers can use this rule as a guideline to help plan their new coverage and avoid gaps.
Start Dates for Coverage
For most qualifying life events, the start date for coverage depends on the date that consumers enroll, as discussed above. If consumers enroll by the 15th day of the month, their coverage will start on the first day of the next month. If consumers enroll after the 15th day of the month, their coverage will start on the first day of the second month.
But there are a few exceptions to the start date rule:
A consumer loses Medi-Cal coverage, job-based coverage or other coverage, and they use a special enrollment period, their coverage would start on the first day of the next month following plan selection, regardless of when during the month they make their plan selection.
A consumer gets married and uses a special enrollment period, their coverage will start on the first day of the next month following their plan selection, regardless of when during the month they make their plan selection.
A consumer has a child, adopts a child or places a child in adoption or foster care, and they use a special-enrollment period, their coverage starts on the date of the birth, the adoption or the placement for adoption or foster care.
On a case-by-case basis, Covered California may start consumers’ coverage earlier.
Signing Up for Medi-Cal Coverage
Consumers can sign up for Medi-Cal at any time. They do not need a special enrollment period to sign up for Medi-Cal. To find out if they or someone in their family is eligible for Medi-Cal, complete the online application by clicking on "Apply" or by calling the county human services office.
Canceled Medi-Cal Coverage and Special Enrollment
Losing Medi-Cal coverage is considered a qualifying event that would trigger a special enrollment period for consumers. Other qualifying events include the loss of a job, a marriage or divorce, or the birth of a child. In the case of such an event, consumers would be eligible to enroll within 60 days of that event. During that period they could not be denied coverage by a health plan in Covered California or in the individual market, and would be eligible for the premium assistance that is only available through Covered California.
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