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When will people need to buy health insurance outside open enrollment?

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Chris Merkel
Health insurers say exchange participation too costly for them
Health insurers say exchange participation too costly for them

These days, when Americans need to sign up for health insurance, they may think they're only able to do so through the well-known online exchanges run by state or federal governments. However, this is not always the case, because these are only open to the vast majority of consumers during what are known as open enrollment periods, and as such many people may need to brush up on their options if they need to buy coverage outside of those times.

There are many reasons why Americans might need to buy health insurance for themselves these days, and not the least of these is the fact that people tend to lose their existing coverage when they leave a job, according to a report from Kiplinger. Doing so for any reason - i.e whether a consumer was fired, or simply quit - entitles them to their own special open enrollment period of 60 days during which they can buy a new policy, as long as they have not signed up for COBRA. With that in mind, however, it should also be noted that people leaving their jobs will almost always see their incomes take a hit, and as such they will probably need to do a little bit of homework to determine whether they're going to be able to obtain a subsidy.

What's available?
Subsidies are open to enrollees who make less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, meaning that those with incomes of less than $46,680 for single people, or $62,920 for married couples will be able to qualify, the report said. Moreover, consumers can sign up at one estimate and then go back and alter that later on if their income ends up being either higher or lower than they expected. In the case of lower incomes, they would therefore qualify for more assistance from the government, but if it's actually higher, then they would likely be hit with added costs on their tax filings later in the year.

Insurers and health insurance brokers might also be able to better connect with these people who might be in search of new health insurance coverage over the course of the year, because they can still sell policies outside the open enrollment period, as it only applies to the government marketplaces. If people go hunting for these plans, the ability of health insurers to meet their needs could be vital to future success.

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