NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Consumers who missed the open enrollment deadline and its extensions still have a number of options for limited health insurance coverage.
If you missed the deadline, your best bet is to purchase short-term health insurance. Short-term health insurance is the most basic coverage and is only meant to protect you against major medical debt in case of emergencies.
Unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S., said Egon Smola, a senior vice president at GetInsured, a Palo Alto, Calif. health insurance broker. If you are between 25 and 34 years old, you have a one in 20 chance of incurring medical bills of at least $27,000 this year and a one in ten chance of medical bills of at least $13,000, he said.
Keep in mind that short-term coverage is only temporary and typically lasts less than a year, but is a good backup plan until open enrollment starts again on November 1, said Noah Lang, founder of Stride Health, the San Francisco health insurance exchange.
This type of coverage does not cover preventative care or pre-existing conditions, so it does not meet the requirements for “minimum essential coverage,” which is required under the Affordable Care Act. You are still liable for the tax penalty, because you did not have coverage for more than three months.
Other insurance options include buying accident or critical injury insurance policies, which are meant for major emergencies. These products can help limit your financial liability in case of serious illness or injury, but bear in mind that they will not meet your coverage requirements under the law either, said Carrie McLean, director of customer care at eHealth.com, an online health insurance exchange based in Mountain View, Calif.