If you have a qualifying life event, you can get health insurance or make changes to your coverage within 60 days.
Unless you slept through the first few months of this year, you couldn’t help but notice that 2014 open enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace has ended. The 2015 open enrollment period doesn’t start until November 15, 2014 — but if your life situation changes, you can adjust your coverage at Healthcare.gov.
Examples of qualifying life events under the ACA (aka Obamacare) include moving out of the coverage area, changes in income, losing a job, getting married, having a baby or adopting a child, a change in immigration status or young adults aging out of their parents’ coverage once they turn 26. Other qualifying events include losing your coverage for any reason or problems with your coverage due to a marketplace error or other complicated cases.
You have 60 days from the time of the qualifying life event to pick a plan. You can also change your plan or your premium.
“One Michigan man who had tax credits to help pay for his coverage got a raise. So instead of owing the difference of his change in financial assistance and his current level of financial assistance at tax time, he was able to adjust his monthly premium accordingly by reducing his tax credit — and his coverage is still affordable at just $50 a month,” says Shawn Dhanak, Michigan communications lead for Enroll America. “The same would apply to people whose income goes down, which may qualify them for a bigger tax credit.”
Consumers don’t have to know all the ins and outs, because advice and assistance is still available from experts at Get Covered America.
According to Dhanak, while Get Covered America celebrates the success of the first open enrollment period and the launch of Healthy Michigan — the state’s Medicaid expansion program — they continue reaching out to consumers. In addition to helping consumers enroll in Healthy Michigan and making sure they’re aware of the special enrollment period, the organization is also gearing up for 2015 open enrollment. Volunteers are needed to help educate and mobilize consumers.
“We’ve had 3,400 volunteers in Michigan and reached out to 97,000 Michigan consumers so far,” Dhanak says. “We need volunteers as much as ever to make phone calls, go door to door, staff tables at community events, write letters to the editor and more. We need to keep our foot on the pedal.”
A survey by Enroll America released on May 21 [PDF] found strong and widespread interest in enrolling, but those who enrolled knew more details of the law and its benefits. The newly enrolled are four times more likely to say they are happy with their coverage than unhappy (41% to 11%), and 74% of new enrollees were very or somewhat confident they would be able to pay their premiums moving forward.
From Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America:
This survey makes clear that the education and outreach carried out by Enroll America and our partners is critically important – when consumers know the insurance options and financial assistance that are available to them, they choose to enroll in coverage. The fact that so many consumers are already happily using their new insurance to see their doctor and fill their prescriptions only renews our determination to take what we’ve learned and reach even more people over the coming years.
Get Covered America is a national campaign of Enroll America that is focused on educating consumers about the benefits of health coverage and the new health insurance options available under the Affordable Care Act.
Learn more about Get Covered America and volunteering HERE.
[Photo credits: Top – Amy Lynn Smith; Bottom – Get Covered America]