Know when you’re eligible to sign up for health benefits
If you are employed, your employer should provide you with health-care coverage enrollment information and a deadline—usually in the fall for the upcoming year. If you have missed the deadline, normally you can’t enroll until the next annual enrollment period unless you have had a qualifying life event—such as losing coverage under your spouse’s plan after a divorce. If you believe you have experienced such an event, contact your human resources or benefits department within 30 days of the event to see if you can enroll.
If you are considering enrolling in a plan through your state’s Health Insurance Marketplace, you may have missed the deadline for 2015 coverage. However, if you have a change in your life circumstances, such as getting divorced, having a child, or losing your job and your health insurance, it may trigger a special enrollment period when you can sign up for coverage and avoid paying a fine. Moreover, if your income is low and meets certain guidelines, you can generally sign up for your state’s Medicaid program or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any time. Click here for more information on enrolling in Medicaid or CHIP.
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Valli Kleven is a graduate of Smith College with a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. She is also an author and Solo Mom thriving in Los Angeles.
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