How to buy health insurance today
Outside of the annual open enrollment period, consumers can find affordable individual coverage options – including ACA-compliant plans and short-term policies.
Health insurance & health reform authority
April 15, 2020
Can you buy health insurance now?
Consumers in most states can buy short-term coverage at any time during the year and coverage can be effective within days – often by the next business day.
If you have a qualifying event or are Native American, you can buy ACA-compliant coverage today, but probably will have to wait until at least the start of next month before the coverage is in force.
If you don’t have a qualifying event, you can’t buy ACA-compliant coverage until open enrollment.
People with modest incomes in New York, Minnesota, and Massachusetts can enroll in health programs year-round.
The mere fact that you’re reading this article suggests that you need health insurance coverage soon. So what are your options for buying a health plan in the individual health insurance market today, tomorrow, or at any other point during the year?
It depends on the type of insurance and when you enroll
The first thing you need to know is that signing up for health insurance coverage isn’t the same thing as having coverage in effect. You may be able to enroll in a health plan today, but that coverage may not take effect for several weeks.
In the ACA-compliant market, private health plans can only have first-of-the-month effective dates (with an exception for new babies or newly adopted children), and depending on the date that you apply, your effective date could be the first of the second following month. And if you enroll during open enrollment, your coverage won’t start until the first of the year, which can be two months in the future if you sign up at the start of the enrollment period.
But plans that aren’t regulated by the ACA can offer effective dates as soon as the day after you apply. And Medicaid can backdate your effective date to the start of the month in which you apply, or even earlier in many states. Your effective date really depends not just on when you apply, but also on the type of coverage you’re getting.
So what are your options for getting coverage that’s effective ASAP?