Each fall, Covered California operates their annual Open Enrollment period. During this time, you can sign up for a health insurance plan or make changes to your current plan. But what if you want to make changes, or enroll in a policy in the middle of the year? In some cases, that might be possible.
First of all, if you’re a small business owner, you aren’t subject to the limitations of Open Enrollment. You can compare group health insurance policies at any time of year, and your employees, through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).
For those of you who purchase your policies individually through Covered California, you are generally locked into the Open Enrollment period as far as dropping your policy or making changes. But if you experience a qualifying life event at any time during the year, you are eligible for a special enrollment period.
These qualifying life events include:
- You lose your existing health insurance coverage, due to reasons such as job loss or lost eligibility for Medi-Cal
- You get married
- You have a baby, adopt a child, or place a child for foster care
- You get divorced or legally separated, and you lose your health insurance
- Someone on your plan dies, and you are rendered ineligible for that plan as a result
- You move into the state of California
- Changes in your legal residency status
- You become a member of a federally recognized tribe
- You are released from jail or prison
- You are an AmeriCorps member starting or ending your service
The above is a comprehensive list of reasons you might qualify for a special enrollment period, but other special cases may apply as well. If in doubt, give us a call and avoid a penalty on your 2016 income taxes.