If you want to buy open-market health insurance, you have a few options:
- Buy into a group health insurance policy (usually through a job).
- Enroll in a private health insurance plan through the ACA healthcare marketplace.
- Purchase a short-term health insurance plan at any time.
If you get health insurance through a job, your open enrollment period will vary. Many companies schedule their group open enrollment periods for the end of the year, but others do open enrollment in Spring or at other times. Your company’s human resources department will be able to tell you more about your options.
To buy private health insurance yourself, you can either wait until the health insurance marketplace’s open enrollment period OR buy a temporary health insurance plan.
Also called “short-term” insurance, temporary medical insurance plans are cheap insurance options that do not meet ACA standards. This means, for example, that they can deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition and may not cover simple procedures or checkups.
The main benefits of short-term health insurance plans is that you may:
- Get next-day coverage.
- Pay lower monthly premiums than with regular insurance.
- Have some coverage for emergencies.
- Sign up at any time without worrying about open enrollment.
Unfortunately, short-term plans have much more limited benefits than regular insurance. However, they can be a good option if you are in a transition period (perhaps waiting to become eligible for Medicare or job-based insurance).