Wedding bells, diapers and “qualifying life events”

The summer season is upon us, and to many people that brings one thing: wedding season.  The summer season is replete with flowers, veils, cake and potentially, a new Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance plan for the happy couple.

Between that new cutting board and a check from Great Aunt Sally, couples who get married before the next open enrollment period in November may qualify to purchase health insurance coverage – and receive financial assistance - through the Healthcare Marketplace.

Though open enrollment will not begin again until November, getting married is considered a “qualifying life event.”  For those without insurance coverage through an employer, that means you are allotted a 60-day special enrollment period to add your spouse to an existing plan or shop for new coverage.

Don’t let your window of opportunity slide while you’re on your honeymoon or gazing at wedding photos - once your 60-day special enrollment period ends, you’ll have to wait until November to sign up for or change your coverage.

Another common qualifying life event is the birth, or adoption, of a child. In that case, the special enrollment period allows you to add the child as a dependent on your plan within 60 days of his or her birth or adoption date.

New graduates who participated in student health plans and those with who will turn 26 also fall into the special enrollment period group. The Affordable Care Act allows you to remain on your parents’ health insurance plan up until age 26, but if that isn’t an option or you “age off” your parents’ plan, you must purchase your own coverage or pay a penalty.  Though many people will receive insurance from an employer, those who do not are eligible to purchase a plan for 60 days after their previous plan ends.

Like the life changes that allow you to qualify, special enrollment periods can be a bit confusing and you may need help to learn about your options.  Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies are standing by to help you understand your options and find coverage that meets you and your family’s needs.  Find your local Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, or call 1-888-630-BLUE (2583) to speak with a representative about your choices.

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The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 36 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.