Sometimes another health insurance provider has a plan that’s cheaper and offers more coverage. Find out how to change health insurance.
You will learn about both the Open Enrollment period and the Special Enrollment Period, the eligibility requirements for both, what to search for in any health insurance policy, and the exact steps you take when changing your health insurance coverage.
To change your health insurance policy, you will need to do so within the Open Enrollment Period or determine if you are eligible for the Special Enrollment Period. You also need to file the required documents and contact your prospective health insurance provider.
The information within this article was collated using trustworthy sources to ensure the facts stated within are accurate at the time of writing. Some of these sources include health insurance industry watchers, healthcare.gov, the Affordable Care Act, and various health insurance companies
What To Remember
Changing your insurance policy is a two-step process. You have to cancel your currently active plan then sign up for a new one. While it is possible to cancel your current insurance policy, there are a few exceptions.
Nevertheless, if you cancel your insurance policy outside the Open Enrollment period, you could run into problems finding a new health insurance policy.
While just about anyone can apply for a health insurance policy during the Open Enrollment period, only individuals with a qualifying event can purchase a health insurance policy outside this period.
Here are the steps you need to know on how to change health insurance
Find Out If You Meet The Requirements For The New Plan
Every individual is eligible to purchase a new health insurance policy during the Open Enrollment period mandated by the ACA. The Open Enrollment period for this year began on the 15th of December 2020, with coverage starting on the 1st of January 2021.
If you want to change your policy outside the Open Enrollment period, you can do so only if you meet the requirements for a Special Enrollment Period. To be eligible, you have to undergo any of the following events:
Change Your Residence
To qualify using this provision, you have to move for work or school to a new, permanent residence. The residence has to be in another ZIP code to activate the Special Enrollment period. You could also qualify if you move from temporary housing to permanent housing.
You Lose Your Current Coverage
Should you lose your student coverage because of graduation, lose your work-sponsored coverage due to being laid off, or lose coverage via your parents’ plan by aging out (over 26), you can qualify for the Special Enrollment Period.
If you lose CHIP, Medicaid, or Medicare eligibility, you can also qualify for the Special Enrollment Period.
Your Family Situation Changes
If you adopt a child, have a baby, or lose the major health insurance policyholder to death, you can qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. You can also be eligible if you lose coverage via a divorce or get married.
A Disaster or Accident Caused You To Miss Open Enrollment
If you experienced cognitive disability or entered a coma due to an accident or some form of natural disaster, you gain eligibility for the Special Enrollment Period.
If You Leave A Domestic Violence Situation
Domestic violence and spousal abandonment survivors looking to become independent of their abusers are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. Their dependents can also be added to the new policy.
Individuals just released from correctional facilities, gained US citizenship or membership in a recognized tribe are eligible for the Special Enrollment.
The Special Enrollment period ends 60 days from the beginning of your eligible situation.
What To Look For In Your New Policy
Before you begin your search, you have to consider what it is you want in your new plan. To do this, focus on what your current policy doesn’t have. Below are a few factors you should look at:
- Monthly premiums
- Prescription drug coverage
- Mental health coverage
- Copay percentages
- Maternity care
- Pregnancy coverage
Write a list of the things you require in your new health insurance policy and use that list to compare policies.
Documents You Will Need
Note that if you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, you will be required to provide documents that back your claim up. The documents you need depend on under which eligible life event you claim.
You will be required to provide a list of documents, which include the following:
- Marriage license, with proof of insurance coverage for one spouse.
- Legal guardian, adoption or birth status via a court order, adoption record, birth certificate, or child support order.
- Document proving coverage loss.
- This could come from your health insurance company or employer to show the end date of your coverage.
- If you age out of your parent’s health insurance, you will be required to show proof of an ACA-compliant plan valid from 2 months before you turn 26.
- If coverage is lost from a school-sponsored policy due to graduation, you’ll have to contact the insurance provider asking for documentation of your policy cancel date.
- Proof of release from some incarceration. This would require a document from the DOC alongside any current parole certificates and your release date confirmation.
- Legal separation or divorce paper.
- This document has to include a provision that ends spousal coverage
- It should also include proof of coverage for longer than two months before divorce or separation
- If you recently moved, you will need not only proof of a forever active health insurance plan but also confirmation of your new residence
- This can be a rental or lease agreement, official school documents that include your student housing or dormitory address, an official USPS change of residence confirmation, a letter from a future employer stating you relocated due to employment.
Should you have another qualifying life event not listed, your Exchange representation can help you determine what documents you need.
Select A Health Insurance Provider
Since there are numerous health insurance providers to select from, it can be quite daunting to source the best plans for you. We’ve taken the liberty of highlighting three top health insurance companies and the features that set them apart.
UnitedHealthcare has various health insurance plans, from student health insurance to emergency insurance and a lot more. UnitedHealthcare offers health insurance coverages that fit in sync with your everyday life, providing you with the most effective care at a price that is just as affordable.
UnitedHealthcare boasts a wide-ranging network of clinics, hospitals, and doctors located all over the country so that policyholders can have access to quality healthcare at affordable prices.
Humana is the perfect health insurance provider for individuals that require vision, pharmacy, dental, Medicaid coverage, and more.
The company prides itself on improving healthcare while making it affordable, thereby accessible to more people. Humana allows prospective policyholders to find out which of their doctors and other healthcare providers are available within each of their plan’s network.
Prospective policyholders can also see the included coverage and benefits such as dental, fitness, vision, prescription drug, and long-term healthcare benefits using their zip code.
Aetna has health insurance services and policies that include pharmacy, dental and medical plans, Medicaid plans, and Medicare services.
About 40 million people have one health insurance policy or another with Aetna, a subsidiary of CVS Health.
This health insurance provider prides itself on working to ensure the insurance system is not only easy but also convenient for its members. There are numerous benefits that Aetna provides. A few of them are:
- Services and programs to help manage increasing healthcare costs while improving the standard of healthcare
- An array of employee and insurance benefit products
- Information and tools to help you make informed healthcare decisions.
When looking at these or any health insurance provider, you must pay attention to their:
- Monthly premiums
- Specialist copayment
- Primary copayments
- Out of pocket maximum expenses
Depending on your needs, financial situation, and locality, you should also pay attention to their Medicare Supplement plans, Medicare Part D plan, and Medicare Advantage.
Finish Your Checklist
Once you are done with your health insurance plan application, the insurance Exchange will present you a checklist of steps you have to take to finish your application.
It could be uploading documents to prove your case such as moving or any other qualifying life event. It might also be that you need to input your income or asset information or select your healthcare plan preferences.
Regardless of the situation, ensure these steps are completed and then select the Final Review button which confirms your new plan.
Cancel Your Active Plan
You can cancel your plan using the Marketplace platform, however, if your health insurance policy wasn’t gotten via the ACA, you will have to independently cancel your coverage.
Generally, your health insurance can be cancelled at any point in time without providing a reason. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t cancel your active plan before your new plan is activated to avoid you having a coverage gap.
Only call your health insurance provider for a cancellation after you have been enrolled in a new policy.
Ask for written documentation to show that your policy has been cancelled and the day your insurance coverage ends. This information should be kept for your records.
Check To See That Your Plan Is Actually Cancelled
After a few months into your health insurance plan cancellation, check your credit card and bank statements to determine if you are still being charged for your cancelled plan.
If this is the case, you can send proof of your cancellation to your former insurance representative, requesting that the premium charges be reversed.