What To Do If You Missed Open Enrollment

HealthCare Writer

Updated on March 20th, 2024

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Are you unsure what to do if you missed the annual Open Enrollment Period for health insurance? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we will explore the concept of open enrollment and health insurance options available after missing a deadline.

We will assist you in understanding short-term medical insurance, which can be purchased outside of open enrollment, explain the different types of short-term health insurance available, and guide you through applying for short-term insurance. Our goal is to help you throughout each step of the process.

Stay tuned to learn more about making the right choice for your health coverage needs.

Key Takeaways:

If you missed open enrollment on the Health Insurance Marketplace for Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance, consider short-term medical insurance a viable option. Short-term health insurance is a temporary option to fill gaps in coverage, typically costing less and offering more flexibility. Carefully consider coverage limits, deductibles, and network of providers when choosing a short-term medical insurance plan.

What is the Open Enrollment Period for Health Insurance?

Open Enrollment is an annual enrollment period when people can sign up for health insurance or change their current plan.

During this time, individuals have the opportunity to review various insurance options. They can compare the coverage provided by each plan, and select a plan that best suits their needs and budget either from the federal Health Insurance Marketplace or their state marketplace exchange. Signing up for coverage during the Open Enrollment Period is important to ensure you have enough insurance for the next year. You can also obtain financial subsidies from the federal or state marketplace to reduce your monthly premium costs for your health insurance policy.

If you miss the enrollment deadline, you may have other options for insurance. This could help you avoid financial problems if unexpected medical issues come up.

Pivot Health offers insurance options for people who missed open enrollment, and additional products to enhance coverage for those who have already signed up. Pivot Health provides insurance plans for individual needs, filling the gap for those needing coverage outside enrollment periods.

Can you still get coverage after open enrollment?

While the annual Open Enrollment Period provides a primary window for obtaining health insurance, there are options available to secure coverage even after the enrollment period has ended.

One alternative outside open enrollment is the Special Enrollment Period, which allows individuals to sign up for insurance due to qualifying life events such as marriage, having a baby, or losing other coverage. More SEP information here.

Moreover, Health Insurance Marketplace alternatives exist for certain individuals who may qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). These programs offer low-cost or free coverage for eligible families.

What is the best option outside of open enrollment?

Short-term health insurance is a viable solution for individuals who miss the Open Enrollment Period by a narrow margin or seek coverage outside the designated timeframe.

This type of insurance offers flexibility to enroll at any time and next-day coverage benefits, making it an attractive option for those in need of quick healthcare solutions. Short-term plans are particularly advantageous for individuals residing in states like Texas and Georgia, where such coverage options are readily available. By opting for short-term health insurance, individuals can bridge the gap between enrollment periods and ensure they have access to medical services without experiencing a lapse in coverage.

What Are the Consequences of Missing Open Enrollment?

Missing the Open Enrollment window can have significant consequences, such as being left without insurance coverage for a prolonged period or limited access to healthcare services.

For many individuals, the absence of insurance coverage can lead to financial strain in the face of unexpected medical expenses. Without an insurance safety net, individuals may risk high out-of-pocket costs that could potentially set them back economically.

Being uninsured may deter individuals from seeking preventive care, thereby risking their overall health and well-being. Routine check-ups, immunizations, and surprise hospitalizations could become unaffordable and inaccessible.

What is Short-Term Health Insurance?

Short-term health insurance provides temporary coverage for individuals in need of immediate insurance solutions, such as those transitioning between jobs or facing gaps in coverage during the year.

These policies offer a flexible approach to insurance, allowing individuals to bridge the gap until more comprehensive coverage kicks in. They are particularly useful for sudden life changes like job switches or unexpected unemployment situations.

  1. While short-term health insurance may not offer the same level of coverage as long-term plans, they provide many health benefits, such as coverage for doctor visits, hospitalization, and prescription medications during critical periods.
  2. In most states like [Connecticut and Idaho], individuals can also explore other options like COBRA plans, which allow for the continuation of employer-sponsored coverage for a limited period after leaving a job. However, COBRA plans are expensive, costing the individual 102% of the cost of monthly premiums and an administration fee.

How Does Short-Term Health Insurance Work?

This type of insurance operates on a flexible framework that allows individuals to secure coverage outside the traditional Open Enrollment Period, catering to specific needs and circumstances.

Enrollment for short-term insurance typically offers a simplified process compared to standard health insurance. Individuals can apply directly through insurance providers or approved brokers, often requiring minimal documentation and quick approval times. Coverage durations generally range from a few months to up to a year, providing temporary financial protection during transitional periods or gaps in long-term coverage.

For individuals seeking longer-term coverage or who are ineligible for short-term health insurance, options like Medi-Cal for residents in California may provide alternative solutions, particularly for low-income households or those with specific healthcare needs.

Why is Short-Term Health Insurance a Good Option for Those Who Missed Open Enrollment?

Short-term health insurance emerges as a favorable choice for individuals who miss the Open Enrollment Period, offering immediate coverage solutions and flexibility in navigating insurance gaps.

One of the key advantages is the swift access to coverage it provides.

Short-term options offer diverse plan choices even outside the standard enrollment period, allowing individuals to select the most suitable coverage for their needs.

Short Term Coverage Gap

Short-term health insurance addresses the coverage gap that arises when individuals miss the Open Enrollment deadline, ensuring continuity in health insurance protection throughout the year.

For many individuals, missing the Open Enrollment deadline can be a stressful situation, leaving them without health insurance for an extended period. In these cases, this type of insurance becomes a valuable solution, offering temporary coverage until the next enrollment window opens. The beauty of these plans lies in their flexibility, allowing individuals to bridge the gap seamlessly between coverage periods.

For example, in larger states like Florida, Georgia, or Texas, short-term health plans can play a crucial role. With larger populations, these states have a robust market for short-term insurance, providing residents with a variety of choices to meet their specific needs and budget constraints.

Lower Cost

Short-term health Insurance often comes at a lower cost compared to traditional plans, making it a budget-friendly option for individuals who missed Open Enrollment or seek economical coverage solutions.

The cost-effectiveness of short-term plans is particularly attractive for those who are looking for temporary coverage options without committing to long-term contracts. This flexibility not only caters to the immediate needs of the insured but also allows them to cancel their coverage at any time as circumstances change.

These policies generally offer customizable coverage options, providing individuals with the ability to tailor their plans to suit their specific health needs and financial constraints. This personalized approach to insurance not only ensures affordability but also ensures that individuals receive adequate coverage for their medical requirements.


Short-term health insurance offers flexibility to individuals facing unique circumstances, such as missed enrollment periods, transitions between jobs, or specific coverage needs beyond standard open enrollment timelines.

For instance, imagine you’ve recently changed jobs and are in a brief period without employer-sponsored coverage. Short-term health insurance can step in to help provide immediate financial protection during this transitional phase. If you relocate to a new state and need temporary health coverage until you establish residency, a short-term plan can help cater to your healthcare needs. These plans can swiftly adapt to changes in your circumstances, ensuring access to healthcare services when you need them the most.

How Can Someone Apply for Short-Term Health Insurance?

Individuals can apply for short-term health insurance directly through insurance companies, facilitating a streamlined process to secure coverage outside of traditional open enrollment periods.

To apply for this type of insurance, individuals can visit the websites of various insurance providers offering this coverage. Once on the website, they will typically find a section dedicated to short-term insurance, where they can begin the application process. 

The application process for short-term coverage is usually straightforward and can often be completed online. Applicants are required to provide basic personal information, such as their name, address, date of birth, and contact details. Individuals must answer a brief medical questionnaire to determine their eligibility for coverage.

Directly from an Insurance Company

Applying for short-term health insurance directly from an insurance company streamlines the enrollment process for individuals who missed open enrollment or require immediate coverage solutions.

Once you’ve decided to pursue this type of insurance outside of the Open Enrollment Period, the first step is to research different insurance providers offering this coverage. Look for reputable companies with good customer reviews and coverage options to suit your needs.

Next, visit the selected insurance company’s website or contact their customer service to start the application process. You will need to provide basic personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and any previous health coverage details.

After submitting your application, the approval process for short-term health insurance is typically much quicker than traditional plans. The convenience of online applications and fast turnaround times mean you can often secure coverage within minutes, ensuring you have the necessary protection in place without delay.

Through a Health Insurance Agent

Health insurance agents play a vital role in helping individuals who missed Open Enrollment, guiding them through the process of selecting appropriate short-term health insurance plans based on their specific needs and circumstances.

These agents have a deep understanding of the complexities of the healthcare system and can navigate the myriad options available, ensuring that individuals make informed decisions.

By leveraging their expertise, individuals can gain access to a variety of plans, some of which may be affiliated with renowned providers offering coverage and benefits.

Through an Online Website

Online companies offer a convenient platform for individuals to explore short-term health insurance options and enroll outside of the traditional Open Enrollment Period, providing a diverse array of plans and coverage choices.

These sites play a crucial role in connecting consumers with an array of insurance options, making it easier for individuals, especially those in popular states like Florida, to access short-term health insurance plans even after the Open Enrollment grace period has ended. They can serve as a hub where individuals can compare different plans, assess their coverage needs, and make informed decisions based on their requirements.

What Should Someone Consider Before Choosing a Short-Term Health Insurance Plan?

Before selecting a short-term health insurance plan, individuals should carefully evaluate factors such as coverage limits, deductibles, and coinsurance to ensure the chosen plan aligns with their healthcare needs.

Regarding coverage limits, it is crucial to understand the maximum amount the insurance will pay for various medical services or treatments within a specified period. Individuals should pay attention to the deductible, which is the amount they are required to pay out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in or cost-sharing begins with coinsurance. 

Coverage Limits and Exclusions

Understanding the coverage limits and exclusions of a short-term health insurance plan is crucial to managing expectations and ensuring protection in various health scenarios, especially for individuals who narrowly missed Open Enrollment deadlines or workplace enrollment periods.

Short-term health Insurance plans typically offer coverage for a specific period, often ranging from a few months to a year, making them an ideal choice for bridging gaps in coverage. It’s important to note that these plans have limitations, such as not covering pre-existing conditions and certain treatments.

Therefore, individuals must carefully review the policy details to assess if the coverage aligns with their healthcare needs. Understanding the exclusions is vital to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket expenses during medical emergencies.

Deductibles, Coinsurance, and Copayments

Examining the deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments associated with short-term health insurance plans is essential for individuals seeking coverage at any time, including those who missed new hire enrollment periods or require immediate insurance solutions.

One key implication of these deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments is their impact on the affordability of health insurance. Individuals accessing coverage outside the standard enrollment periods may face higher out-of-pocket expenses, particularly if they need medical services before meeting their deductible. This can create financial challenges for those who have to balance insurance costs with other necessary expenses.

The flexibility of timing for acquiring insurance can be a relief in situations where immediate coverage is needed. The ability to obtain short-term health insurance outside of the typical enrollment periods allows individuals to access protection when they need it most. While this flexibility is valuable, it’s important to carefully consider how deductibles, coinsurance, and co-payments fit into the overall financial picture to ensure that insurance remains a viable and sustainable option.

Network of Providers

If a network of providers is included, evaluate the network associated with the particular short-term health insurance plan for individuals considering post-enrollment options, ensuring accessibility to healthcare services and coordination with specific providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a missed open enrollment health insurance period A missed open enrollment health insurance period refers to individuals who have missed the designated enrollment period for their employer-sponsored health insurance or the ACA Open Enrollment Period for marketplace plans.
  2. What are the benefits of getting short-term medical insurance? There are several benefits to getting short-term health insurance coverage that can fill the gap until the next enrollment period, lower premium costs compared to traditional health insurance (if ACA tax subsidies are not available), and the ability to customize coverage to fit your specific needs.
  3. Who is eligible? Individuals who have missed the designated enrollment period for traditional health insurance or marketplace plans are typically not eligible for missed open enrollment health insurance. However, individuals who have experienced a life event, such as losing their job or getting married, that affects their health insurance coverage, can be eligible for enrollment on the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period. If the individual doesn’t qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, short-term medical insurance can be a flexible alternative option. 
  4. What are the different options? There are several options, including short-term health insurance, and fixed indemnity insurance. Each option offers different levels of coverage and flexibility, so it is important to carefully consider your needs before selecting a plan.
  5. Can you get short-term coverage during open enrollment as well? Yes, depending on your situation you can buy short-term plans even during open enrollment. Learn more here.

How long does short-term health insurance last? The length of coverage varies depending on the type of plan duration selected (and state rules). Short-term health insurance typically provides coverage for a few months, up to one year. It is important to carefully review the terms and coverage of each plan before enrolling.

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