please help me, I am a health insurance idiot
September 27, 2018 7:52 AM   Subscribe

I am losing health insurance from my old job in four days. I am signing up for a plan through Obamacare/ACA. Have some questions about the application. Mission critical: avoiding a lapse in coverage. (snowflakes inside)

This question about being on a performance plan was me. VERY long story short, I have taken a new job, which unfortunately does not offer health insurance at this time. Right after I got offered New Job, and before I could put in notice to leave Old Job, Old Job fired me. Theoretically I could use COBRA but realistically I can't afford it.

So, with that summary of events, I've never had to get my own insurance that was not through an employer before. I have NO idea what I'm doing. I've found a couple workable plans that I like through, and have started my application.

0.5) The main thing here is: I am TERRIFIED of having a lapse in coverage. I have a lot of preexisting conditions and want to avoid that at all costs.

1) When the application asks if I have health insurance currently, I do. It expires on 9/30.

2) At one point the application seemed to kick back to me because I currently have insurance, and therefore do not qualify for a special enrollment period. It told me to come back when my current insurance expires.

3) I don't want to do that? Because of aforementioned fear of having a gap in coverage? If I wait until 10/1 to apply, I will have already lost coverage.

4) Is retroactive application of benefits a thing? I think it is. If I DO apply after 9/30, will the coverage I apply for-- and hope to gosh, receive-- then be applied back to 10/1 so there is no gap?

Sorry for being totally ignorant, I am under a ton of stress because of the whole job change and my cognitive abilities are not great right now. How do I work this? Does anyone have experience with this situation? Any advice appreciated! Thanks.
posted by coffeeand to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're probably overreacting. You have 62 days to get coverage to avoid a formal lapse. And see this question for some advice about how to handle COBRA for a short lapse.
posted by doomsey at 7:56 AM on September 27, 2018 [5 favorites]

I did Obamacare after I got let go of a job as well. There should be a question in there about why you need coverage or "is anyone listed on this application losing insurance". Answer YES to that question (about losing insurance), then it will ask you the date that it ends. If it's within 30 days then it should let your application go through (because losing insurance is a "life event"). If all else fails, tell them you don't have's close enough to 9/30 to not matter at this point. But try the "I am losing insurance through my job" question first.

You may also have to pretend that you don't have a job at this point. Use the information you have at the exact moment you fill out the app...if you haven't started New Job yet, you are unemployed. I know it's weird, but the algorithm of the questions isn't quite as smooth as it should be (in my opinion).
posted by MultiFaceted at 8:01 AM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Your state may have "navigators" or other official people hired to help people navigate the ACA. Around here they're mostly in the local health centers. If you're willing to post your state, we can probably help you find someone to help.
posted by lazuli at 8:02 AM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Multifaceted--

I think I tried saying yes to the "are you losing your insurance" question and it still pinged back. If I submit the application and it gets rejected, can I try again and say I don't have insurance?

I started my job late last week so I'm not sure saying I'm unemployed is really accurate even in literal terms.

Thank you all for your help!
posted by coffeeand at 10:29 AM on September 27, 2018

Also, preexisting conditions cannot be used against you in health insurance(except smoking). The ACA has not been repealed.
posted by rockindata at 12:22 PM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

When in doubt, or merely confused, we’ve always punted and called the Marketplace and had one of their people walk us through the process. It’s always been a good, helpful experience.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:01 PM on September 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

YES to what Thorzdad says, calling a support person was way more effective than trying to figure it out myself. And in my experience, the people I spoke with there bent over backwards to help me.
posted by missmobtown at 8:01 PM on September 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

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