Can I wait until I’m sick and then buy Health Insurance?

A:  It would be great if we all could just wait until we were sick and then buy Health Insurance.  Health Insurance is expensive!  Really, why should we have to pay a monthly premium when I might not even use it?

The main reason is that the ACA Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land. But, there are other compelling reasons not to wait.

ACAOpen Enrollment Isn’t Open-Ended

You can only buy health insurance in the individual market (which includes through the health insurance exchanges as well as outside the exchanges) during open enrollment, a period of time when everybody can buy health insurance.

For 2014, when ACA-compliant plans were just getting started, open enrollment lasted six months. For 2015 through 2018, open enrollment is three months each year. But starting with 2019 coverage, open enrollment will be only about six weeks long, running from November 1 to December 15 each year, with coverage effective January 1 of the coming year.

If you don’t buy your health insurance during open enrollment, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment to purchase Major Medical or you can ask me about alternative plans (Especially since these plan are about ½ the cost).

Exceptions to Open Enrollment

Situational changes in your life, but not changes in your health status, will create a special enrollment period during which you can buy health insurance or change your health plan.

These life events include:

  • Losing access to your existing health insurance plan for reasons other than non-payment of premium or fraud (for example, leaving your job and losing access to your employer-sponsored insurance).
  • Gaining a dependent or becoming a dependent. Getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child are examples.
  • Permanently relocating can create a special enrollment period. This also applies to people being released from prison. Starting in July 2016, this only applies if you were already insured in your previous location – you’ll have an opportunity to change insurance if you move, but not to obtain coverage for the first time.

Special enrollment periods are time-limited, and you’ve only got 60 days from the date of the qualifying event to enroll in a new plan.

Health Insurance for Unforeseen Circumstances: It’s a bad plan to wait to buy health insurance until you need to use it. Even if you’re young and healthy, things can still happen and it is a risk NOT to have it.

What if you sliced your hand when a wine glass broke as you were washing it? Stitches in an emergency room can be very expensive. What if you tripped over the cat while walking down stairs? A broken ankle can’t wait for treatment and might even require surgery.

The most common reason people give for not having health insurance is that it’s too expensive. Since there are other plans beside “Obamacare”,  call me to discuss your options. If you find the ACA is too expensive please feel free to give me a call and let’s take a look at your other options.