A special enrollment period is a 60-day window of time when people who have a “qualifying life event” can apply for and buy insurance at the Health Insurance Marketplace for the first time, or change a plan outside of the open enrollment period.
Since the next open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace will not begin until Nov. 15, 2014, many people will have one or more of these common life changes that will allow them to act during a special enrollment period.
Some of the qualifying life events that trigger a special enrollment period include having a baby, moving, gaining citizenship, or getting out of prison.
Another important qualifying life event is losing other health insurance coverage. For example, if a person recently lost BadgerCare+ or their employer drops health insurance coverage, the person has 60 days from the time the insurance ends to find coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Just like during open enrollment, there may be financial assistance to pay for monthly premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs, depending on household income.
Anyone who does not buy health insurance within the 60-day special enrollment period, either through the Health Insurance Marketplace or the private market, will have to wait until the next open enrollment period or until another life qualifying event occurs to buy health insurance coverage.
Wisconsinites who go without health insurance may have to pay a tax penalty for being uninsured when filing taxes in 2015. For some families that means a smaller refund or owing the government more money.
If you’re eligible for a special enrollment period, you can start the process of buying insurance by visiting the Health Insurance Marketplace website at http://www.healthcare.gov or calling the Health Insurance Marketplace national call center at 1-800-318-2596 (open 24 hours, 7 days a week). You can find in-person assistance by calling 2-1-1 for a reference to a nearby community organization for help with an application.