Can I switch from a student health insurance plan to a plan from the exchange?
Yes, though it is best to wait until open enrollment (November 1st to December 15th in most states) to do so. Being currently enrolled in a student plan will not impact your ability to purchase coverage through the exchange or to qualify for subsidies. All you need to do is make sure that you drop your student coverage by December 31st to ensure that you will remain eligible for subsidies the following year.
If you lose eligibility for your student health plan outside of open enrollment – for instance, if you drop out of school – you will be given a special enrollment period in which you can purchase a plan from the exchange. This period will last for 60 days following the end of your student health plan coverage. If you know ahead of time when your coverage will end, you can also use your special enrollment period to buy a new plan in the 60 days leading up to your coverage’s expiration. Act as soon as possible to ensure that you don’t end up with gaps in your coverage. If you sign up for a new plan before your old coverage ends, you can even choose to have it take effect the day after the old coverage expires.
Note that if you live in a state that uses the HealthCare.gov exchange, you will be asked to provide proof of your loss of coverage in order to receive a special enrollment period. This proof could be something like a letter from the school notifying you of your ineligibility to continue on the student health plan. You will have 30 days to submit such documentation after applying for a special enrollment period and your new plan. Make sure to submit everything on time, or else you may be stuck waiting for open enrollment. If you have questions or need assistance, seek out one of the exchange’s navigators or another expert.
Voluntarily dropping a student health plan outside of open enrollment is not advisable. Unlike the involuntary loss of coverage described above, knowingly terminating your plan will not trigger a special enrollment period. This means that you will need to wait until the next open enrollment period to buy a policy from the exchange.
What is a student health plan?