Be sure to apply early. In most cases, applications received after March 20 will not have coverage until May 1.
This is the first of two open-enrollment periods this year for children in the individual health insurance market -- the second is from Sept. 15-Oct. 31. During these times, health plans cannot screen children or deny them coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.
Federal health care reform prevents health insurers from deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing medical condition. However, individual plans -- like most employer-sponsored health plans -- can create open-enrollment periods.
If you need a health plan outside of the enrollment dates, you can apply either to the Washington State Health Insurance Pool (WSHIP), or if you qualify, to the new Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP-WA).
Exceptions where you can apply for individual coverage anytime include the birth or adoption of a child or if a child or parent:
No longer qualifies for a state program.
- Loses coverage due to a divorce.
- Loses employer-sponsored coverage (including COBRA).
- Moves and their plan is not available where they live now.