Health insurance can be confusing, especially if you are purchasing individual or family coverage for the first time. The healthcare reform law, known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was signed into law in March 2010 and has brought many changes to the way consumers shop for and purchase health insurance and the plans and benefits offered by health insurance companies.
Some of the changes under the ACA include:
Individual health insurance plans are effective through the end of a calendar year. This means you must shop for and purchase individual health coverage each year during the open enrollment period.
Special Election Period: The time outside the yearly Open Enrollment period when you can only enroll in a plan if you have a Qualifying Event that creates a Special Election Period. Voluntarily quitting other health coverage or being terminated for not paying your premiums are not considered loss of coverage. Losing coverage that is not minimum essential coverage is also not considered loss of coverage. Qualifying life events that create a special enrollment period include:
Having, adopting, or placement of a child;
Permanently moving to a new area that offers different health plan options; or
Losing other health coverage (for example due to a job loss, divorce, loss of eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP, expiration of COBRA coverage, or a health plan being decertified).
Information for Small Group Employers (2-50 employees)
Although some mandates of the ACA apply to all employer groups, others depend on the number of employees you have. Learn more about these mandates here.