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So I need to buy insurance for myself. I picked one of those plans where you pay a huge premium monthly and also get to pay for all the healthcare too.

My question is, can I just cancel my plan and the go to some other insurance company and start a new plan?

I keep seeing open enrollment mentioned but I don't see anything stopping me from doing this and I'm not sure I understand all the implications here

This is for the united States

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    Health insurance varies by country. Can we assume US based on your profile? Do you have insurance through your company? May 8 at 16:42
  • Note that the one big way you can game this (see the accepted answer) is timing things to have a baby in January or February with a gold plan with extremely low out-of-pocket, then use the qualifying life event to drop to a bronze plan for the rest of the year. You reset your deductible that way, but the savings of $2000+/month are likely worth it. You could presumably also do that with major surgeries you know you're going to need, etc. as long as you're fairly confident (or can afford to make up the difference) you won't have major medical expenses later in the year. May 10 at 12:20
  • I suggest finding an Insurance broker who is qualified to answer your questions. healthcare.gov/glossary/agent There should no additional cost to you for doing so.
    – Juan
    May 10 at 14:36

3 Answers 3

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In the United States you only have two ways to switch insurance:

This is to force people to maintain their level of coverage throughout the year, unless something significant changes.

There are 4 basic types of qualifying life events. (The following are examples, not a full list.)

Loss of health coverage

  • Losing existing health coverage, including job-based, individual, and student plans
  • Losing eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP
  • Turning 26 and losing coverage through a parent’s plan

Changes in household

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a baby or adopting a child
  • Death in the family

Changes in residence

  • Moving to a different ZIP code or county
  • A student moving to or from the place they attend school
  • A seasonal worker moving to or from the place they both live and work
  • Moving to or from a shelter or other transitional housing

Other qualifying events

  • Changes in your income that affect the coverage you qualify for
  • Gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe or status as an Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporation shareholder
  • Becoming a U.S. citizen
  • Leaving incarceration (jail or prison)
  • AmeriCorps members starting or ending their service

If one of these things didn't happen you are stuck with your current choice until the next open season.

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  • Ah okay I think the piece I was missing in my understanding was why there is an open enrollment period. It has to do with preventing adverse selection and smoothing out revenue and lowering risk for insurance companies. Got it. May 8 at 19:01
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    @Anthony Russell - Obamacare is month to month. So cancelling is no problem but enrolment might be. May 8 at 19:32
  • @BobBaerker there's literally like 3 different answers on this forum. Healthcare is rediculously confusing. I just want to pay someone some money so I can not be poor when I break something May 8 at 20:33
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    It doesn't matter what the different answers on this forum state. At some point you're going to have to either pick up the phone or go to the health insurance provider's web site and find out what's available to you. May 8 at 21:50
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    You can cancel insurance whenever you want, generally. Buying insurance is a different animal. There are some short term plans, which tend to cover only accidents and have a stated maximum, and there are some healthcare sharing plans which don't conform to the insurance regulations because they are not insurance plans. Private insurance companies in the US are forbidden from underwriting applications to assess your liability, so outside of a qualified event or annual enrollment period, they don't take new members; and in some places short term plans are illegal by state law.
    – quid
    May 9 at 16:59
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In general, private health insurance can be canceled at any time. One should do so at the end of the month. Obviously, you should check with your current provider to determine cancelability.

Government insurance such as Obamacare has an 'Open Enrollment Period' which is when you can sign up (Nov 1st to Jan 15th in most states). At this point, it's closed for 2022. However, there are exceptions called "qualifying life events" as well as Special Enrollment Periods.

It boils down to what type of coverage you're seeking and your current circumstances.

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  • And employment based insurance
    – jmoreno
    May 11 at 12:03
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In the US, the IRS has rules that you need to have a "qualifying life event." This site has all the details, but in a nutshell, the answer is "no" you can't do it just because you feel like it.

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  • This answer really needs a lot more information to be useful
    – quid
    May 11 at 15:45

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