Can I Buy Individual Health Insurance At Any Time?

What is Private Health Insurance?

Private health insurance is purchased by an individual instead of a group. The best private health insurance policies are available for individuals to buy outside of the insurance marketplace. These policies can be written for individuals or families. A private health insurance policy is capable of filling in the gaps left by group policies and Medicare/Medicaid. A private policy may also offer a more comprehensive list of benefits.

When Might You Need Private Health Insurance?

There are certain occasions when you may need to have private health insurance coverage. The loss of your COBRA coverage, either through the exhaustion of benefits or if your employers stop paying the premiums, is one reason you may need individual health insurance. Getting married or gaining a dependent will also spark the need for a private policy. You may also need private health insurance coverage if you’re over the age of 26 and therefore too old to remain on your parents’ group policy. Being self-employed or unemployed will also require that you purchase your own coverage. If you’re between jobs, you may only need a short-term health insurance policy.

Can I buy health insurance at any time?

Private health insurance coverage must be purchased during open enrollment like other types of health insurance. If you experience a qualifying event, you have 60 days to apply for a qualified health insurance policy. You may find a policy that you like outside of the open enrollment period, but if you don’t have a qualifying event, you can’t actually purchase it. Some agencies may allow you to choose a policy and pay a portion of the private health insurance cost to lock in the premium amount. The coverage won’t take effect, however, until after the open enrollment period.

There are established windows of opportunity for consumers looking to purchase Obamacare-compliant health insurance for themselves or for their family. Everyone has the chance to purchase health insurance or change health insurance plans purchased on the exchange during the Open Enrollment Period, or OEP. OEP is an annual event, and in most cases, it runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from November 1 to December 15. This date can vary a bit by state so be sure to check the OEP dates for your state. 

The annual OEP is the time to buy ACA-compliant, Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) without complication. You will need to evaluate your choices and apply for coverage before the end of the OEP. But there are circumstances in which you can get those plans outside of open enrollment periods, like if you’re eligible for special enrollment due to a qualifying life event.

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