There is a possibility that you may not be satisfied with your current health plan and looking to switch to a different health plan. The open enrollment period is the duration during which you can switch to a new plan. You need to know that switching health insurance plan is a two steps process, first, you need to cancel your current plan and then you need to sign-up for a new plan. You can easily cancel your current health plan at any time of the year giving any reason, with only a few exceptions. Though, you may find difficulty in finding a new plan after canceling your current plan, especially if you have not canceled your plan during the open enrollment period. Signing up for a new health plan is only possible during the open enrollment period, or you must have a qualifying life event to become eligible for the special enrollment period. For switching to a new health plan you need to know the open enrollment period, the coverage you require from your new health plan and the eligibility factors for qualifying for a special enrollment period to make switching of health plan simple and easy.
Check your Eligibility to Enroll for a New Plan
You are eligible to buy a new health plan during the ACA’s open enrollment period that usually in most of the states starts from November 1 and ends on December 15, and coverage starts from January 1. However, if the open enrollment period has ended, you may sign up for a new plan only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
The events that trigger a Special Enrollment Period include:
Change in Family
You will qualify for a special enrollment period on having a baby, or adopting a child, or if the main applicant of your plan passes away. You will also qualify for a special enrollment period if you get married or get divorced.
Loss of current coverage
There are several reasons due to which you can lose your coverage like, loss of job and employer-sponsored coverage, loss of student coverage after graduating from college, or turning 26 years of age and losing coverage of your parent’s plan. Loss of coverage due to any of the above-mentioned reasons will qualify you for a Special Enrollment Period. You will also qualify on losing eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP.
Missed Open Enrollment due to accident or disaster
You will qualify for a Special Enrollment period if you missed the open enrollment period because you were severally ill like experiencing a coma or suffering from sudden cognitive disability due to a natural disaster.
Change in your residence
If you move to a new location due to a change of school or job, or if you have moved from temporary to permanent housing, and your new residence is in a different ZIP code, then you will qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
If you recently became a U.S. citizen, you were recently released from jail or gained membership in a federally recognized tribe, then also you will qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to any of the above-given reasons you will have 60 days from the onset of your qualifying event to enroll. If currently you are having a health plan and you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, you can begin the enrollment process by contacting the Marketplace call center. The representative of the call center after knowing about you will help you in canceling your current plan and enroll in a new plan, without having any coverage gaps.
If you qualify for a Special Enrollment period, then you should enroll in a temporary health plan to obtain coverage until the open enrollment period arrives. You should not see a temporary health plan as long-term coverage, as these plans are used only to bridge the gaps in the coverage. These plans are not a long-term health insurance solution because it has several restrictions that are not found in ACA-compliant plans. To fill small gaps in the coverage, you can also purchase a standard or Medicare supplemental insurance plan.
Searching a New Plan
Before searching for a new health plan, you need to be exactly aware of your requirement. You should be aware of the benefits that your current plan lacks. Some of the factors that you must consider while looking for a new plan include:
- Monthly premiums
- Mental health coverage
- Deductibles and copay percentage
- Drug coverage options
- Pregnancy coverage and maternity care options
Make a list of everything you require in your health plan and keep these needs in mind while comparing health plans and while speaking with representatives from health insurance companies.
On qualifying for a Special Enrollment Period, you will need to provide some documentation depending upon which qualifying life event you claim. Some of the documents that you may need to provide include:
- Loss of health coverage documents, given either from an employer or your insurance provider that states when the coverage ended.
- Marriage license, along with proof of coverage for at least one spouse.
- Certificates or court orders that grant guardianship or a child support order showcasing birth, adoption, or legal guardian status.
- Divorce or legal separation papers.
- If you move to a new zip code then proof of previous health coverage along with the document that confirms your new address.
Choose a Provide and Compare Quotes of Different Providers
You need to know about the different health insurance carriers operating in your area and should compare quotes from the top health insurance carriers. UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Aetna, and Cigna are some of the providers offering a wide range of health insurance products. You can collect health insurance quotes from all these carriers either through their website or through health insurance portals that help you find the best plan exactly as per your need.
Complete your To-Do List
The Marketplace will provide you with a to-do list after you complete your application that you need to do to finalize your application. You may need to upload documents that confirm your qualifying life event, along with the information on your income and assets. You need to complete all the required steps and click the final review to confirm their new enrollment.
Cancel your Existing Coverage
If your existing health coverage is not through the ACA, you will need to cancel your coverage. Generally, you can cancel your coverage at any time due to any reason. If you don’t want to cancel your plan before you are covered with a new plan, then after enrolling in a new health plan, you can call your insurance carrier and request a cancellation. You should request the written documentation from your carrier confirming that the plan is canceled and when your coverage ends. You need to keep this documentation for your record. During the first few months of your policy cancellation, you need to double-check your bank and credit card statements to ensure that you are still not paying for your old plan. However, if your previous carrier is still trying to charge you, then send the cancellation document to your former representative stating the date when you canceled your policy and request that the charge is reversed.
Obtain the health Coverage of your Choice
After canceling your policy and ensuring that it is canceled, you need to purchase the health insurance of your choice. Living without health insurance is not at all a wise decision, as you will be exposed to expensive medical treatment in case of an emergency. You should take out the time to review all your health insurance options and choose the best plan as per your need and budget.