When Life Happens
As individuals consider enrolling in health insurance, cost is always taken into consideration. The questions often arise; is my monthly premium worth it if I do not use my plan? My dependents are healthy, why do I need to enroll them? As an advisor we work with our all clients to provide strategic solutions and strive to offer plans to fit the needs of all individuals, but we get it. Insurance is expensive.
One of the most common inquiries I receive from clients is if they can add their girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, partner, dependent child, etc. onto their plan at any time in the year. The thought process is that if they do not enroll the dependents now and enroll them when the insurance is needed they will save on the monthly premiums and possible defer the tax penalty as well.
What many people do not know is that there is an Open Enrollment period for both employer sponsored health insurance plans and individual health insurance plans. This is the time when you are able to enroll in coverage, change your plan, or add dependents. You are not able to make any of these changes outside of the allotted time period. The Open Enrollment for employers is based on their contract with the insurance carrier and most commonly happens once a year. Open Enrollment for 2017 in the individual market, under the Affordable Care Act, ended in January.
When ACA was written, lawmakers understood the importance of limiting enrollment to specific times of the year, and the same concept applies to group policies. There are exceptions, referred to as ‘Qualifying Life Events’ that allow you to make these changes outside of the Open Enrollment. The most common qualifying events are:
- A permanent move outside of your current insurance service area
- Involuntary loss of coverage (does not include non-payment)
- A change in citizenship
- Divorce, death, or legal separation
- Birth of a child
Health insurance is expensive, but it is also important in protecting yourself and your family. If you have any questions about the benefits of enrolling yourself or your dependents onto your plan, or are uncertain about whether you have a qualifying life event, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help!
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