If you’ve been on your parent’s health plan, you’ve probably never really thought about health insurance. You might be shocked to find out that you have to get your own insurance when you turn 26. A bigger shock is that you may be liable for a big fine if you don’t have health insurance.
How Much Time Do You Have?
The answer is “it depends” –
- If your parents have a Health Insurance Marketplace plan that they bought themselves or if they get subsidies to help pay for their insurance, you have until the plan year ends on December 31 to find another health plan
- If your parents have a health plan from their employer, your coverage will likely stop at the end of the month that you turn 26
Another shocker – you can’t buy health insurance just any time! You can only buy during Open Enrollment (November 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017).
However, if you have a qualifying event for health insurance, you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. Fortunately, turning 26 and no longer being covered by your parent’s plan is a qualifying event. You have 60 days before your birthday to enroll. Coverage can start the first day of the month your parent’s coverage ends. If you don’t do that, you have 60 days after your birthday to get your own policy.
FYI, other qualifying events for buying health insurance after open enrollment include getting married, divorced, moving out of your coverage area, having a baby, adopting a baby and a few others.
Time For Some Good News
You can buy catastrophic coverage until you’re 30. Catastrophic plans feature the lowest premiums, yet include coverage for essential health benefits, including no-cost preventive care. This may be a good choice if you’re generally healthy. However, keep in mind that the deductibles on these plans tend to be high, usually more than five thousand dollars. Catastrophic plans are a common choice for those under 30 buying health insurance after open enrollment.
You also may be eligible for subsidies if your income is low enough. In this case, it’s wise to look at other types of plans, specifically bronze and silver level plans. (You can’t get subsidies with a catastrophic plan). Your income may even qualify you for BadgerCare Plus, Wisconsin’s version of Medicaid.
All of the rules related to buying health insurance after open enrollment can make your head spin, but take a deep breath, look at some plans, or even give our helpful and knowledgeable customer service representatives a call at 608.644.3430.