Open enrollment for individual health plans starts Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 31. If you need health insurance for your child, make sure you enroll early. If you miss this open enrollment period, you'll have to wait until March 15, 2012, unless you meet certain qualifications.
And if you wait until even the beginning of October, your coverage may not kick in until Nov. 1.
Federal health reform prevents health insurers from denying coverage to children because of a pre-existing health condition. However, just like employer-sponsored health plans, insurers can create open enrollment periods. During these times, children under age 19 do not have to complete a health questionnaire and cannot be denied health insurance.
These open enrollment periods apply to all individual health plans. People buying this type of coverage do not get health insurance from their employer or their employer doesn't cover dependents.
Exceptions where you can apply for coverage for your child anytime include after the birth or adoption of a child, or the parent:
Is no longer eligible for a state program such as Medicaid.
Loses coverage due to a divorce.
Loses employer-sponsored coverage (including COBRA coverage).
Moves and their plan is not available where they live.
Need more help understanding the open enrollment periods or think you're not being treated fairly? Send us an e-mail or file a complaint with us.