Using the Marketplace After March 31

Most people must buy insurance during open enrollment, but businesses can sign up for coverage for their employees anytime.

Individuals can generally buy health insurance only during the annual Open Enrollment period. This is true for insurance you buy on the Marketplace, or insurance you buy as an individual outside of the Marketplace.  

For 2014, open enrollment ended on March 31, 2014. In 2015, open enrollment will start on November 15, 2014 and end on February 15, 2015.

Businesses can begin to offer coverage to their employees at any time. The Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) Marketplace helps businesses provide health coverage to their employees. Learn more about SHOP, including what businesses qualify, and the small business tax credit. Go to https://www.healthcare.gov/what-is-the-shop-marketplace/ for more information.

If you are self-employed and have no employees, you can buy coverage from the individual Health Insurance Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov), but not from SHOP.

Individuals can sign up outside of open enrollment if they have a qualifying life event.

Outside open enrollment, between April 1 and November 15, you can enroll in Marketplace insurance only if you have certain life events that give you a special enrollment period.

You can apply for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) any time. If you're qualified you can enroll right away.

Buying a Marketplace plan outside open enrollment

In order to buy a Marketplace health insurance plan outside the open enrollment period, you must have a qualifying life event.  Qualifying life events that create a special enrollment period include:

  • Getting married
  • Having or adopting a child, or taking in a foster child
  • Permanently moving to a new area that offers different health plan options
  • Losing other health coverage (or example, if you lose your health coverage because you lost your job, got a divorce, stopped being eligible for MaineCare, or your COBRA ended)
    • Note: 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.
    • If you are already enrolled in a Marketplace plan and your income or household size changes in a way that makes you eligible for different tax credits or cost-sharing reductions

The next open enrollment period is November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015.

Have questions about coverage options for you or your business? Call the Consumers for Affordable Health Care HelpLine at 1-800-965-7476.