Thinking about switching up your health insurance? While there are certain time restrictions for changing plans, there are exceptions to these rules that you may qualify for. Before making the switch, it’s important to have all the information you need. Check out our step-by-step guide to switching health insurance plans below.
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Steps to Follow: How to Change Health Insurance
Changing your health insurance plan involves two main steps: canceling your current plan and enrolling in a new one. In most cases, you can cancel your health insurance plan at any time for any reason. However, if it’s not during the open enrollment period, finding a plan that provides coverage immediately after cancellation might be challenging. Open enrollment periods are specific time frames when anyone can get health insurance. Outside of these periods, you can only enroll in a plan if you have a qualifying event.
To simplify the process of changing your health plan, it’s essential to understand what open enrollment is, what you need in a health plan, and how to qualify for a special event period. For example, the ACA’s open enrollment period runs until December 15, 2020, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2021.
If open enrollment is not currently open, you may still be able to enroll in a new health care plan under a special enrollment period. Some events that can trigger a special enrollment period include:
- Getting married
- Having a child or adopting a child
- Losing coverage due to job loss, aging off a parent’s plan, or other reasons
Once you qualify for a special enrollment period, you have 60 days from the start of the qualifying event to enroll. To initiate the enrollment process, reach out to the Marketplace call center at 1-800-318-2596. A representative will guide you through the enrollment process and ensure a smooth transition from your current plan to the new one.
If you have a special enrollment period, your representative can also assist in canceling your existing plan and ensuring continuous coverage.
If you don’t meet the criteria for a special enrollment period, there are still options available to get coverage. You can file an appeal if you believe your denial was incorrect. If your appeal is successful, you’ll gain access to a special enrollment period. To begin an appeal, download your state’s appeal form, complete it, and submit it as instructed. Including eligibility documentation with your appeal can expedite the process.
If obtaining a special enrollment period through an application or appeal is not possible, consider enrolling in a temporary insurance plan. These plans act as a stop-gap measure until the open enrollment period reopens. It’s important to note that temporary health insurance plans have restrictions that regular ACA-compliant plans do not. Therefore, they should be seen as a short-term solution rather than a long-term health insurance option. Alternatively, you can explore standard or supplemental Medicare insurance plans to fill in minor gaps in your coverage until the next open enrollment period.
What to Look for in a New Health Insurance Plan
Before you start searching for a new plan, take some time to consider what you’re looking for. Assess what your current plan lacks, and create a wish list of features and benefits you desire. Some areas to consider may include:
- Deductibles and copay percentages
- Monthly premiums
- Mental health coverage
- Pregnancy coverage and maternity care options
- Drug coverage options
Having a clear understanding of what you need in a plan will serve as a helpful guide when comparing plans and speaking with health insurance representatives.
Documents You Need to Change Health Insurance
If you have a qualifying life event that permits a special enrollment period, you will need to provide documentation to support your claim. The specific documentation required will depend on the nature of the qualifying event. Here are some examples:
- Birth, adoption, or legal guardianship: Provide a birth certificate, adoption record, court order granting guardianship, or child support order.
- Marriage: Include a marriage license along with proof of coverage for at least one spouse.
- Loss of coverage: Submit documentation from your employer or insurance provider indicating the end date of your coverage. If you lost health insurance due to turning 26 or graduating from college, you’ll need proof of qualifying health insurance coverage for at least 60 days prior.
- Divorce or legal separation: Include divorce papers with a clause terminating spousal health care provisions, along with documentation showing coverage through your spouse for at least 60 days before separation.
- Change of address: Provide proof of your previous health insurance coverage and official documentation confirming your new address. This could include a lease agreement, employer letter, school documents, or an official address change confirmation from the postal service.
- Release from prison: A document from the department of corrections can confirm the release date and any pending parole certificates.
For other qualifying life events, consult the Marketplace representative who will guide you on the required documentation.
Choosing a Provider When Changing Health Insurance
To help you make an informed decision when changing health insurance, compare quotes from top providers. Here are a few options to consider:
UnitedHealthcare offers a variety of plans ranging from accident insurance to student health insurance. With UnitedHealthcare, you can find coverage that suits your lifestyle and budget. They have an extensive network of doctors, clinics, and hospitals across the country, ensuring access to quality care at affordable prices. Get a quote from UnitedHealthcare today.
Humana offers a range of plans including Medicare, Medicaid, vision, dental, and pharmacy coverage. They are dedicated to making healthcare more accessible to everyone and actively contribute to the communities they serve. Discover Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug (Part D), and Medicare supplement options. Compare monthly premiums, deductibles, copays, and other features specific to your ZIP code.
Aetna provides medical, pharmacy, and dental plans, along with Medicare and Medicaid services. With a team committed to improving the quality and convenience of healthcare, Aetna offers a range of employee benefits and insurance products. They also provide programs, services, tools, and information to help customers make better decisions about health and financial wellness. Find Aetna today.
When completing your application, the Marketplace will provide a list of steps you need to take. This may include uploading documentation, entering income or asset information, or selecting policy preferences. Ensure you complete all the necessary steps and click “final review” to confirm your new enrollment.
Canceling Your Current Coverage
If your current health insurance is not through ACA, you will need to cancel it independently. Generally, you can cancel any type of health insurance or dental insurance at any time and for any reason. However, it’s essential not to cancel your plan until you’re covered by a new one to avoid a gap in coverage. After enrolling in a new plan, call your insurance provider to request cancellation. Obtain written confirmation from your policy provider stating the termination date of your plan, and keep this documentation for your records.
Ensuring Your Policy Is Canceled
After your policy is canceled, check your bank and credit card statements in the following months to ensure you are not still being charged for the old plan. If you notice any charges from your previous insurance company, provide your old representative with documentation showing when you canceled your policy. Request that the charge be reversed.
Get the Medical Care You Need
While the individual mandated penalty for being uninsured has been eliminated, living without health insurance can still potentially leave you financially vulnerable in the face of medical emergencies or accidents. Reviewing your options for coverage is crucial to protect yourself and your family. Take the time to explore how to switch health insurance and ensure you have the coverage you need.