Open Enrollment is Over: Can You Still Get Covered?

Over eight million people signed up for health insurance in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace during the 2014 open enrollment period. Were you one of them? If not, the next open enrollment period starts this November. However, certain life changes might mean you’re eligible to get health insurance (including coverage of your birth control with no out-of-pocket costs!) sooner. Read on to find out more about your options.

Could you be eligible for special enrollment in a marketplace plan?

The next open enrollment period to get private health insurance in the ACA marketplace begins November 15, 2014, and runs until February 15, 2015. You can only sign up for a marketplace plan during an open enrollment period, unless you experience a “qualifying life event.”

What’s a qualifying life event?

Qualifying life events trigger special enrollment periods that allow you to sign up for private health insurance in the marketplace outside of open enrollment. Qualifying life events include getting married, having a baby, moving to another state, losing job-based coverage, and other major life changes.

For example, if you change jobs and your new employer doesn’t offer health coverage, you’ll be eligible for a special enrollment period and can sign up for a health plan in the marketplace.

You experienced a qualifying life event—now what?

If you experience a qualifying life event, you can apply for insurance through or your state’s marketplace to find out if you qualify for a special enrollment period.

Could you be eligible to enroll in Medicaid?

Medicaid, the government-sponsored health insurance program for low-income individuals and families, accepts new enrollees year-round. Eligibility for Medicaid coverage depends on your income and household size. In states that have expanded their Medicaid programs, young women without children who are paid less than $15,856 per year are eligible for Medicaid. (Unfortunately, many states have chosen not to expand their Medicaid programs. See if your state is one of them.)

If you think you may be eligible for Medicaid coverage, you can learn more at

One last thing…

If you enroll in a health plan through the marketplace, be sure to stay on top of reporting changes in your income or family size to the marketplace, since those changes may affect your eligibility for Medicaid, premium tax credits, or cost-sharing subsidies. Reporting changes to the marketplace when they happen will ensure you receive the right financial help and avoid surprises at tax time!

Lauren Birchfield Kennedy is the Director of Health Policy at the National Partnership for Women & Families. Kennedy advises the National Partnership’s health policy agenda and oversees advocacy strategy for key policy priorities, including Affordable Care Act implementation and insurance market reform. She has an extensive background in women’s health policy and expertise in health programs serving lower income women, including Medicaid and the Title X family-planning program. Kennedy holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and a B.A. from UCLA. She splits time between D.C. and Massachusetts, all the while dreaming of her native California.

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Vicky P.
Vicky P3 years ago


Aaron Bouchard
Aaron Bouchard3 years ago

Thank you

Natasha Salgado
Past Member 3 years ago


John chapman
John chapman3 years ago

I'm all for AFFORDABLE, health care.

Just don't think we have it yet.

Early in the first Clinton administration, Hillary took the point on healthcare reform.

The special interests circled the wagons, & killed it.

Hopefully, in Hillary's first administration, she can tweak the ACA, to get it where it needs to be.

Rosa Caldwell
Rosa Caldwell3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Jan N.
Jan N3 years ago

p s., please explain to me why you were happy to throw away $400 a month for essentially no coverage? Yes, we need single payer, but what did you have with a "hospitalization policy for disasters"? Nothing. So you have to have your appendix out: that's over $10,000, it's not a disaster and you're hung with the entire bill. Broken arm, just a few thousand dollars, none of it covered. Doctor visit because you were puking your guts out for 2 days, over $100 just to be seen, not including anything they might prescribe to cure the condition. You were deluding yourself with that "catastrophic" policy. Unless of course you just relied on the ER to treat you and skipped out on the bill, leaving the rest of us to pay for your care.

Emilie, no need to apologize, we know the US healthcare system sucks. We have to live (or not) with it.

Bruce K., I'm sure you're very selective about where you get your propaganda, I mean news. Only fair and balanced for you, right?

aj E.
aj E3 years ago

p.s. you don't have to prove you had a qualifying event.

Lucas Kolasa
Lucas Kolasa3 years ago


Winn Adams
Winn A3 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago