Can I apply for health insurance if I’m unemployed, or lose Cobra coverage, under Obamacare?

If you’ve lost your job, changed your job,
or your 18-months of COBRA coverage have run out, you are able to apply for new coverage
in the individual insurance market under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The next annual open enrollment period — when
anyone can add or change their health coverage – is currently scheduled to begin on November
15 of this year. Outside of open enrollment, the Affordable
Care Act deems these types of changes in your access to health coverage to be qualifying
events, which trigger a Special Enrollment Period. A Special Enrollment Period gives you 60 days
from the date of your qualifying event to apply for a new health plan. When you apply for your new coverage, it’s
a good idea to have some proof of your loss or change in health coverage, such as a letter
of termination from your employer or a copy of your coverage termination letter from your
prior health plan — just in case your new insurance company requires them for verification. As long as you apply for new coverage within
60-days, your application for new health coverage cannot be declined. Be aware that all new major medical heath
plans provide certain popular benefits with no out of pocket costs like:
– Dietary counseling and screenings for weight management
– Tobacco and alcohol screenings, counseling and help quitting
– And recommended mental health and illness prevention tests and screenings — to name
a few If you miss your 60-day Special Enrollment
Period, you may not be able to enroll in a major medical health plan until the next open
enrollment period. And, it’s likely your coverage could not begin
before January 1 of next year. If you miss the 60-day deadline, we encourage
you to look at short-term health coverage as an alternative, to gain some measure of
protection until you’re eligible to apply for major medical coverage again during the
Open Enrollment Period. Short-term coverage does not meet the requirements of Obamacare,
so you may still be subject to a tax penalty.

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