By now, most people are well aware of the open enrollment period for health insurance. It occurs between the beginning of November and the end of January of the following year. During this time, you can enroll for, change, or cancel healthcare coverage.
What about the rest of the year, though? What if you want or need to cancel your Obamacare coverage outside of the open enrollment period? Unfortunately, this is not possible.
Changing your Obamacare plan is not generally allowed outside the open enrollment period. The good news is that a number of eligible special circumstances to make changes at other times during the year. This includes canceling your current plan.
Here is what you should know.
Qualifying Life Changes
There are a number of reasons why you might want to cancel your health insurance plan outside of the open enrollment period. However, only certain reasons are eligible. If you simply want to look for a different plan, either within the health insurance marketplace or through a private provider, you are out of luck.
However, there are several qualifying life changes that allow you to cancel your Obamacare health insurance plan. For example, if you start a new job that offers employer-sponsored health coverage, you are eligible to cancel your Obamacare plan. That is so it is not necessary to pay for two separate policies. Alternately, you may start, change, or cancel coverage if you lose your job and you need to downgrade to a less expensive policy under Obamacare.
Other qualifying life changes include marriage or divorce, the birth of a child. Additionally, a change in income, age, or other circumstances makes you eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. You need to apply and be approved before you can take advantage of qualifying life changes in order to cancel your health insurance under Obamacare.
Canceling for One or Several Members
The ability to cancel your Obamacare insurance policy outside the open enrollment period depends upon whether you are canceling for a single person or all the people covered under your policy (i.e. your spouse and children). For example, a new job may only provide employer-sponsored insurance coverage for you. This leaves you paying a larger amount to add a spouse and/or children to your insurance policy.
In this case, you should cancel the family policy you have under Obamacare. This way you can join the group plan provided by your company, while your spouse and children apply for a new plan through the health insurance marketplace. Also, you can end your coverage while the rest of your family continues coverage uninterrupted.
This is especially wise if other family members qualify for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP due to income or other circumstances. You want to get or maintain the best value whenever possible. Therefore, even if one family member qualifies for a change in coverage, explore all of your options before canceling Obamacare for everyone. Find out who is eligible for changes and then decide whether cancellation is beneficial.