Under the Affordable Care Act, the law requires all Americans to have healthcare coverage. If you fail to enroll in a health insurance plan during the open enrollment period, your family can be fined up to 2.5 percent of your annual income, which sounds a little scary.
However, if you missed purchasing a health insurance plan during open enrollment, you can rest assured that there are alternative coverage options available to you outside of the open enrollment period.
Know What Options Are Available Outside of Open Enrollment
There are several options available to you if you miss signing up for healthcare coverage during your state’s open enrollment period. These include special enrollment periods for qualifying life events, purchasing short-term plans, and signing up for a healthshare membership.
Special Enrollment Periods
Certain qualifying life events allow you to sign up for insurance during a special enrollment period. Qualifying life events include getting married, having a baby, permanently moving to another state, involuntary loss of coverage, newly-gained American citizenship, enrollment errors, and income changes.
How Do Special Enrollment Periods Work?
In most cases, you have 60 days after the date of the qualifying life event takes place to enroll in a new healthcare coverage. However, in cases where you’ve been given advanced notice that your coverage is ending, some special enrollment periods start 30 days before and extend 30 days after your policy termination date.
If you need to enroll in a healthcare plan outside open enrollment and don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, other options are available. You can opt to purchase a short-term insurance plan, which provides coverage for up to three months at a time. Short-term plans are generally less expensive than permanent policies, and you can apply for another short-term healthcare plan after your coverage ends if you wish to extend your coverage.
Another affordable alternative is to opt out of traditional health insurance coverage altogether and signing up for a healthshare program. Healthshares are offered by faith-based groups and allow you to make a contribution amount into a shared escrow account instead of paying a premium like with a health insurance policy. Healthshares are a more affordable option than health insurance, with a monthly cost typically half that of health insurance.
What Are the Requirements for a Healthshare Membership?
Most healthshare plans do have some regulations and requirements, such as subscribing to a certain faith and generally being in good health. If you don’t currently have any major health problems, a membership in a recognized Health Care Sharing Ministry could be a good option for you.