Q. I missed the deadline for health insurance signup. What can I do?
Confused and Anxious
Dear Confused and Anxious,
There is a last alternative for you and millions of others who have been left uninsured. The option is short-term health insurance.
Short-term health coverage has been used for many years by:
- New employees waiting for their benefits to activate
- Retired personnel waiting for Medicare
- Unemployed between jobs or career shifts
Since there are limits, this insurance is typically a lot less costly.
“It’s fail-safe coverage for some injury or illness of a serious nature that occurs during this period,” said Patrick Johnston, president and CEO of the California Association of Health Plans.
This short-term coverage, also referred to as “Band-Aid policies, do have many drawbacks. They exclude routine physical examinations, and don’t pay for prediagnosed conditions and prior treatments. They also have lifetime limits on benefits. All these are prohibited under the healthcare law for comprehensive plans.
Band-Aids Help But Are Not Cures
The band-aid policies are better than nothing but you should know that they:
- Provide only minimum coverage
- Don’t insure pre-existing conditions
- Might not be renewable after a medical problem
The most important fact to know is that these short-term policies do not offer the essential coverage needed to comply with the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. So, despite having a health plan, you will still be faced with the new Health Act’s penalties. ($95 or 1% of your household income)
Most people are unaware or duped into thinking that since you have a health policy that you are covered both legally and medically. When surveyed by eHealth, 64% of respondents said they were unaware of compliance to Obamacare’s regulations and an additional 20% thought that they were covered (although not)
So, Confused and Anxious, DON’T make this mistake.
Why Bother Buying a Band-Aid Policy?
This is a good question. The answer is yes, if you have no coverage because it will protect you against tremendous financial disaster if you develop a new diagnosis or fall prey to a horrendous accident.
With the deadline passed, you will have to wait until November 15th to enroll in a comprehensive health plan (to activate Jan.1) However, if you undergo a “qualified life event, you can enroll now.
Qualified life events are:
- Job loss
- Giving birth to a baby
If you have been contemplating the idea of a wedding, you now know that “Marriage may be good for your health”!