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How long does it take to get the health insurance? When can we start?

At the close of March 2014, the open enrollment period ended for obtaining health insurance. This doesn’t mean, however, that you have no options to get covered. If you qualify for Medicaid or have someone who needs coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program, you may sign up for these services at any time year-round. If you meet the minimum qualifications, you’re eligible to sign up right away to being receiving those benefits.

Outside of the typical enrollment period, you may qualify for special enrollment if you meet any of the following criteria regarding qualifying life events:

  • Divorce or marriage
  • Adopting a child
  • Having a baby
  • Placing a child for foster care or adoption
  • Moving to a new residence
  • Exiting incarceration
  • Obtaining citizenship
  • Losing healthcare coverage at the end of a 2014 individual policy plan, expired COBRA benefits, aging out of a parent’s plan, loss of job-based coverage, or losing eligibility for CHIP or Medicaid.

It’s important to know that voluntary opting out of existing coverage may not necessarily qualify you for a special enrollment period. If you are eligible to apply under a special enrollment period, you might be able to get reduced out of pocket costs or premium tax credits that keep your overall costs down.

If you apply for a Special Enrollment Period and get denied or if you believe, based on reading the above statements, that you are not eligible for a Special Enrollment period, you do have options. You can appeal an existing denial. Furthermore, if you are not eligible or continue to be denied, the Open Enrollment period for 2015 will start on November 15, 2014.

Looking into coverage options for your 2015 plan is a good exercise to begin as soon as possible so that you are aware of what is the best plan for you. Putting in some research on your end will clue you in to the various prices for programs in your state and your official coverage plan will begin on January 1, 2015. Once your coverage becomes active, you are eligible to reap the full benefits of whatever you have selected. This includes going to the doctor, filling a prescription, obtaining preventive care services, or visiting the emergency room. If you already have coverage, you’ll also be able to review your current plan and determine whether you want to change or not.