Before 2014, you could buy an individual health plan at any time of the year. But now, except for special circumstances, you can purchase individual coverage only during the period known as open enrollment. However, some states are extending the time that people have to buy health insurance.
Can you purchase your own health insurance?
Even if employer-based group health insurance is still an option for you, you may wonder if you should purchase health insurance on your own, buying what is called Individual Health Insurance, or Personal Health Insurance.
Can you still get health insurance?
Open Enrollment is over. You can still get 2018 health insurance 2 ways: If you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to a life event like losing other coverage, getting married, or having a baby. If you qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
If you're unemployed you may be able to get an affordable health insurance plan through the Marketplace, with savings based on your income and household size. You may also qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
You can find these plans through some insurance companies, agents, brokers, and online health insurance sellers. If you buy a plan outside the Marketplace any time, during Open Enrollment or not, you can't get premium tax credits or other savings based on your income.
In most cases, you would need to wait until the next Open Enrollment period starts on November 1, 2017 to change your health insurance plan or enroll in a new one. However, even after Open Enrollment has ended, there are some ways to still get health insurance coverage.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is an exception to typical health insurance providers because it is neither a for-profit privately owned company nor a program run by the federal government. Blue Cross Blue Shield is a federation of 38 independent health insurance companies across the U.S. that covers over 100 million Americans.
Apply for Medicaid and CHIP 2 ways
- Through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Fill out an application through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
- Through your state Medicaid agency. You can also apply directly to your state Medicaid agency.
How Much Does Obamacare Cost in 2017?
|Average Individual Health Insurance Premium||Average Family Health Insurance Deductible|
While you can drop your health insurance plan at any time, if you do so outside of the open enrollment window, or before you have new coverage, you won't be able to enroll until the next open enrollment period. And no, dropping insurance voluntarily does not count as a qualifying event.
For tax year 2017, the penalty is 2.5% of your total household adjusted gross income, or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to a maximum of $2,085. For tax year 2018 and beyond, the penalty amounts have not been announced, but are expected to increase.
The Best Health Insurance Providers of 2018
|Our Ranking||Best Health Insurance Providers|
|1||Blue Cross Blue Shield|
Qualifying Life Event (QLE) A change in your situation — like getting married, having a baby, or losing health coverage — that can make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, allowing you to enroll in health insurance outside the yearly Open Enrollment Period.
You qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you've had certain life events, including losing health coverage, moving, getting married, having a baby, or adopting a child. If you qualify for an SEP, you usually have up to 60 days following the event to enroll in a plan.
If you don't have qualifying health coverage, you must pay a penalty known as the individual shared responsibility payment. The penalty is 2.5% of your household income or $695 per adult — whichever is higher. The fee rises with inflation. Final 2018 amounts will be published when available.
There are 4 ways to apply for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace:
- Apply online. Visit this page and select your state to get started.
- Apply by phone. Call 1-800-318-2596 to apply for a health insurance plan and enroll over the phone.
- Apply in person.
- Apply by mail.
In the United States, annual enrollment (also known as open enrollment or open season) is a period of time, usually but not always occurring once per year, when employees of companies and organizations may make changes to their elected fringe benefit options, such as health insurance.
Once you've enrolled and made your first payment it can take about 3 weeks, for your application to be processed. If you applied for major medical health insurance and your enrollment was received in the first fifteen days of the month, your coverage will typically begin on the first day of the following month.
Changing plans after you're enrolled. Open Enrollment is over. You can still change 2018 health plans only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period due to having a life event — like changing jobs, getting married, or having a baby.
Health Insurance Marketplace. A service that helps people shop for and enroll in affordable health insurance. The Health Insurance Marketplace (also known as the “Marketplace” or “exchange”) provides health plan shopping and enrollment services through websites, call centers, and in-person help.
Who is eligible for Medicaid? You may qualify for free or low-cost care through Medicaid based on income and family size. In all states, Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
Insurance program that provides low-cost health coverage to children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy private insurance. In some states, CHIP covers pregnant women. Each state offers CHIP coverage and works closely with its state Medicaid program.
Short Term health insurance plans do not meet the minimum essential coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, and may result in a tax penalty. They are designed solely to provide temporary health care insurance during unexpected coverage gaps.