If you find yourself outside of open enrollment and don't qualify for a special enrollment period, you can still purchase a form of coverage called short-term medical insurance.

A few things to know about short-term policies:

  • They don't meet minimum essential coverage (MEC) requirements, the coverage standards under the Affordable Care Act.
  • There is no "Guaranteed Issue," so you can be denied coverage due to health status, age, gender, or other factors that might predict the use of health services.
  • The plan may exclude coverage for services like preventive treatment (e.g., routine physical exams and immunizations), pregnancy or childbirth, transplants, treatment of mental illness or substance abuse, etc.
  • Because they don't meet MEC, you may still be subject to pay the individual mandate penalty for not having qualified coverage. See: If you don’t have health insurance: How much you’ll pay.
  • The policy is temporary (from 30 days to 1 year), and you can't renew after the policy expires.
  • Losing your short-term coverage will not qualify you for a special enrollment period.

Short-term coverage may be a great fit for you while you're waiting for the next open enrollment period. A short-term medical policy can be an affordable way to make sure you have insurance coverage in the case of a medical emergency. These policies are eligible to be reimbursed, however, reimbursements made to you or a family member who didn't have minimum essential coverage (MEC) health insurance at the time of the expense may be included in your gross income for tax purposes.

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