|By Laura Green, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The birth of a child, a divorce or other changes in life circumstance can restart the clock, under federal government rules. Floridians who get their health coverage through COBRA may also be able to buy a marketplace plan.
Now that the frenzy of open enrollment is over, advocates are switching back to education mode. They are focusing on informing the public about special enrollment periods that may allow more people to gain coverage through the federal marketplace.
Special enrollment periods are common in the health insurance industry. When a worker has a baby, she may know to go to her
Supporters of the health care law worry that many eligible families may miss out if more information isn't shared about the special enrollment periods.
"Even though the open enrollment period has ended, people can still get access to the marketplace if there's a significant life event, and that's not something most people are aware of," said
Enroll America, an organization dedicated to signing up Americans under the Affordable Care Act, is planning a campaign in
"Co-pay" and "deductible" were new jargon for many of the Floridians Enroll America served over the last few months. The notion of special enrollment periods is also likely to be new to many of the very people who could access one, they suspect.
"Our goal is just to make sure we go full force educating people about the special enrollment periods," said
So Enroll America is looking for creative ways to explain the concept.
The group plans to host tables at
"We get to talk to people who more often than not are going through a very exciting part of their life," Garcia said.
Spring is also a time when graduates may be aging off their parents' insurance. The Affordable Care Act allows young adults to get coverage through a parent's plan until age 26.
Federal government officials already fear they missed a group of individuals who might not have known they were eligible for a marketplace plan during open enrollment, which ended
COBRA, which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, gives workers who have lost their jobs the right to continue their health insurance for a period of time. Generally, the employee is expected to pay for coverage at group rates offered by the employer.
When the law was passed, the cost of COBRA was generally thought to be less expensive for the former employee than if he had to buy insurance on his own. It was probably more expensive than the coverage he got through his employer because many employers pay a significant portion of the employee cost.
Under the Affordable Care Act, employees who lose their jobs and health coverage are able to buy a plan on the marketplace. This month, the Obama administration put out a bulletin extending the enrollment period through
Unlike COBRA, marketplace plans may come with federal financial assistance, depending on the applicant's income.
"In many cases, workers eligible for COBRA continuation coverage can save significant sums of money by instead purchasing health insurance through the marketplace," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi.
In order to buy a plan through a special enrollment period, consumers must first confirm that they are eligible. To find out, call 1-800-318-2596.
(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Visit The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.) at www.palmbeachpost.com
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