What to do if your health insurance was cancelled due to nonpayment:
- Contact your insurer and ask if there’s a grace period.
- If you can afford your premium, work out a repayment plan and get up to date as soon as possible.
- If you can’t afford your health insurance, consider Medicaid, paying cash for healthcare, or obtaining short term health insurance.
What happens if you stop paying your health insurance premiums? If you miss one, you’re probably okay thanks to a grace period. If you start skipping payments altogether, you could lose coverage.
People miss health insurance payments for lots of reasons—maybe life gets busy and it slips your mind for a few days or perhaps you are in the middle of an emergency such as hospitalization and can’t get to things like bills.
But sometimes, it’s a matter of affordability: You encounter unexpected expenses—the car needs repairs, you have to fly to visit a sick relative—and you start falling behind on health insurance payments because you’re short on funds.
Suddenly, you’ve lost your coverage. Can you get it back?
What do you do if you just can’t afford health insurance?
Missed premium payments + health insurance grace periods
First, let’s talk about consequences. If you pay your premium a couple of days late, you’re not going to lose your coverage. So what is the grace period for health insurance? The answer depends on whether or not you receive advanced premium tax credits to help with your monthly health insurance payments.
I receive a tax credit. What’s my grace period?
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you typically get a 90-day grace period if both of the following apply:1
- You’re enrolled in an Obamacare plan with advanced premium tax credits
- You’ve paid one full month’s premium payment for this policy year
No tax credit for me. What’s my grace period?
If you don’t qualify for a premium tax credit, your grace period may differ. The length depends on your state laws. Your state’s department of insurance can provide you with that information, or you can contact your health insurance company.
But what happens if you maxed out your grace period and your health insurance was cancelled due to nonpayment? You may have some recourse. And, if you don’t, you will need to find a way to pay for healthcare.
I lost my health insurance. Now what?
Here are three options if your health insurance policy is cancelled by your insurance company:
Appeal your cancellation if you think it was unwarranted. You’ll need to contact your insurer.2 If your appeal is denied and you aren’t eligible for special enrollment, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period to obtain major medical health insurance coverage.
You may still have some other health insurance options that you can enroll in year-round. These are outlined in the next section.
If the cancellation happens during or prior to the annual open enrollment period (November to December) you can enroll in another ACA-qualifying major medical plan either from the ACA exchanges, where you can take advantage of subsidies if you qualify, or from the private market (subsidies are not applicable to these policies).
If the cancellation happens outside of open enrollment, you can see if you qualify for a special enrollment period. Events like adopting a child, moving, or getting a divorce may qualify you to enroll in a major medical plan outside of the open enrollment period.
Again, you can obtain a policy either from the ACA federal or a state exchange, or from a private health insurance company that has major medical plans but that don’t offer them on the ACA marketplace.
Get help deciding if you should buy from an ACA exchange or from the private marketplace.
3 options if your coverage is cancelled + you don’t qualify for special enrollment
1. See if you qualify for Medicaid
Your state’s Medicaid program provides low-cost or no-cost healthcare coverage, if you qualify. Each state’s requirements vary. However, under the Affordable Care Act, some states expanded their Medicaid programs to all adults under age 65 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level.
2. Pay for healthcare out of pocket
With no health insurance, you will need to pay medical bills 100% out of pocket. Here are some ways to help mitigate costs:
- Visit a retail walk-in clinic for care related to minor illnesses such as cold or flu, an ear infection or a rash.
- Notify your healthcare provider that you do not have health insurance and will be paying out of pocket. You may be able to negotiate a special rate or payment plan.
- Work with a patient advocate. These individuals can help you navigate the healthcare system and figure out how to get high medical bills paid, whether that means working out payment plans with providers or locating resources to help lower your out-of-pocket costs.
- Use your health savings account,if you have one, to pay for qualified medical expenses.
If you’re concerned about paying for healthcare completely on your own, you may want to consider a telemedicine product. Telemedicine provides you with access to low-cost telehealth consultations with board-certified doctors. They can diagnose and treat minor medical conditions such as cold, flu, urinary tract infections and more. Telemedicine is not insurance.
The Telemedicine package sold through Health eDeals provides you with access to 24/7 care from anywhere you have connectivity.
Enroll in Telemedicine now! The cost is $12.95 for an individual and $14.95 for a family per month. Consultations are just $15 each.
3. Enroll in alternative coverage such as short term health insurance
When you need benefits until you’re able to enroll in an Obamacare plan, a short term medical health insurance plan provides temporary benefits for 30 to 364 days depending on your state.
While they are not considered minimum essential coverage, short term plans can help pay for a range of medical services related to serious injuries and unexpected illnesses (e.g., emergency room visits, surgery, hospitalization).
Temporary plans are:
- Almost immediate coverage. You choose your policy’s start date, which can be as soon as the day after you enroll.
- Highly customizable. You can enroll for 30 to 364 days depending on your state. Choose a bare bones plan with a higher deductible to keep premium costs at a minimum, or pay a higher monthly rate for access to benefits related to doctor office visits, certain pre-existing conditions or some basic preventive care. Get a quote and compare plans to find the coverage that fits your needs.
- Available year-round.No open enrollment periods. As a matter of fact, you can get a quote and apply online 24/7. Because these plans are not guaranteed-issue your application is subject to approval by the insurer.
- Accepted by most healthcare providers. Most doctors and hospitals accept short-term health insurance as they do major medical insurance. Plus, temporary plans are typically network-free, which means you can see your preferred healthcare providers (as long as they accept your plan). Some short-term plans include access to networks that offer discounted care when you use a participating provider.
Have questions? Check out our short term coverage FAQ. Or, call 866-278-1464 to speak with a certified health insurance producer.
Summary + Next Steps
If you’ve missed a couple of premium payments and haven’t received a termination notice from you insurance company, pay the full balance so you’re current.
If you stopped paying your health insurance premium because you can’t afford health insurance, consider a couple of alternatives:
- Find out if you qualify for Medicaid.
- Pay for healthcare out of pocket. Healthcare providers actually charge insurers more for the same exact treatment and care, sometimes by as much as 50%. While you won’t be able to pay for expensive emergencies or surgeries out of pocket, you may be able to pay cash for routine care at a walk-in doctor’s office and get help for more serious problems at urgent care. Adding Telemedicine to your care plan can make obtaining treatment even more convenient.
- Short term health insurance helps with high-dollar health care like emergency room visits and surgery for 30 to 364 days (duration limits vary by state). It is not ACA-qualifying minimum essential coverage, but you can enroll anytime.
Get a short term medical insurance quote today with coverage as early as tomorrow if you qualify.