Beginning January 1st 2014, everyone in the United States was legally required to have either qualified health insurance or an exemption from such coverage. One of the easiest ways to get this health coverage is during Open Enrollment. The next Open Enrollment window will begin November 1, 2016 and last until January 31, 2017.  

What is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is a three-month period during which anyone, regardless of any pre-existing conditions, may apply for health coverage through private employers at the Health Insurance Marketplace.  The Marketplace allows individuals and families to compare different policy options, deductibles, and costs for insurance coverage on one website. It also helps individuals to apply for coverage whose employers do not offer it.

What if I need insurance outside of the Open Enrollment window?

You can apply for health coverage through the Marketplace outside of the Open Enrollment window during a Special Enrollment period if you have one of the following life events and apply within 60 days of the event:

  • You lose your job
  • You move to a new state
  • You have a change in your income
  • You lose your insurance (for example, through losing your job or aging out of your parent’s coverage)
  • You get married
  • You get divorced
  • You have a baby
  • You adopt a baby
  • You become a member in a federally recognized tribe  
  • You achieve status as an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholder

Additionally, the following exceptional circumstances may also help you to enroll at any time of year:

  • You live in a state that did not expand Medicaid coverage
  • You have been determined as ineligible for Medicaid
  • You gain or become a dependent through a court order or child support
  • You have been abandoned by your spouse or have been the victim of domestic abuse/violence  
  • You get an appeal decision in your favor
  • You experienced a serious medical condition that prevented you from enrolling
  • You experienced a natural disaster such as a flood, an earthquake, or a hurricane

                                                                                                                                                                      If none of these apply to you and you are unable to afford private insurance, you may apply for Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any time of the year.  

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