What’s the deal with “Qualifying Events”?

Penguin Judo. Is this a thing?

Penguin Judo. Is this a thing?

If you’re like me, you think about enrolling in something at about the exact time you need it. That judo class at the Learning Annex that starts on Saturday? I’ll think about enrolling Saturday morning. Getting renter’s insurance for my new apartment? I’ll think about enrolling when the roof starts leaking. And health insurance? I’ll think about enrolling the next time I get sick.


The fact that I still don’t know judo is the first hint that this process isn’t working very well for me. It turns out, you almost always have to enroll in things well before the start date. There’s usually a window of time, and that window closes. At the Learning Annex, sometimes you can beg and plead and get the judo instructor to make an exception for you. But with important things like health insurance, there are laws that control when you can enroll. Begging and pleading? Forget about it.

With healthcare reform, there are now specific times of the year when you can enroll in health insurance. Those times are called “open enrollment periods” and, hint, they don’t last forever! If you don’t enroll during an open enrollment period, you have missed your window, and you have to wait until the next time open enrollment comes around.

Unless – HI-YA (Judo chop) – you have a “qualifying event.” These are life events that are significant enough that the law allows you to enroll in health insurance right then, and not have to wait until the next open enrollment period. The following are the qualifying events that will allow you to enroll in health insurance coverage:

  • You lost your existing health insurance coverage
  • You moved to a new area not served by your current health plan
  • You gained a dependent through marriage, domestic partnership, birth or adoption
  • You had a change in marital status
  • You had a change in employment

If you had one of these qualifying events, and want to enroll in health insurance – get moving! The window won’t stay open for long.

If you missed the window to enroll in health insurance, and you didn’t have one of these qualifying events, then the next open enrollment period for most of us will be November 2014 – February 2015. Remember, that unlike my judo class, you can enroll for health insurance and it doesn’t have to start right away. So if you want health insurance for January 1, 2015, you can enroll in November with a start date in January. You don’t have to be like me, and wait until the last day of December to enroll.

In fact, don’t be like me. Plan ahead. Enroll early. And also, learn judo. It might come in handy.

The Affordable Care Act Explained…By a College Freshman

Duckncover screen grabCandace Joyner, a freshman at the University of Oregon, looked around and realized that her fellow Ducks weren’t understanding how the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) would impact them. To no fault of her classmates. Not only is the Affordable Care Act a complicated law to understand, but there’s also been very little advertising and outreach aimed at young adults. With that in mind, Candace decided to do something about it. She teamed up with a few UO student leaders and created a campaign called “Duck ‘N’ Cover,” complete with the website: duckncover.org

The site is designed to give college students a crash course in the Affordable Care Act, and to help young people understand just how important it is to have health insurance. It’s written for college students, because it’s from a college student. Candace isn’t affiliated with an insurance company or the government, she’s just a student trying to help her peers. We absolutely applaud her effort.

Check out a profile from Eugene Oregon’s “The Register Guard” about Duck N’ Cover, Candace, and her team’s education efforts: UO Student Tackles ACA Complications.

Will Healthcare Reform Offer a Government-Run Plan like Medicare?

Question Visual_4

No. The Affordable Care Act does not create a new government-run health plan, but it does create a new marketplace for private plans through healthcare exchanges and expands Medicaid options. You’ll see changes in health plan options and the shopping experience.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act and healthcare reform, check out HealthCareLawGuide.com.

Related Posts: When Will I Automatically Get Free Health Insurance Thanks to the Affordable Care Act?Come On, Am I Really Required to Buy Health Insurance?