Deadlines and Guidelines

Whether you're currently without health insurance coverage or have a policy but are thinking of switching plans, there are a number of important factors to consider. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, a great deal of health insurance activity is taking place on public marketplaces or exchanges. These marketplaces are often available online. If you want to make sure that you're getting the best possible policy, it's always important to know as much about the process as possible.

Deadlines for applying for health insurance will vary depending on exactly what type of policy you're interested in. In the state of Maryland, for example, the open enrollment period to apply for health insurance using the state marketplace begins November 15 and runs until February 15. During that time you can create an account on the website, input your employment and financial information to see what type of financial assistance or subsidy program you may qualify for and more.

If you miss the open enrollment period for your state marketplace, there are still a few important steps that you can take. Many marketplaces have Special Enrollment Periods that extend deadlines a significant period of time to give people the best possible chance at getting the health coverage that they so desperately need. Qualifying for a special enrollment period will require you to have gone through a life changing event like being diagnosed with a serious medical condition, experiencing a change in your family size (such as the birth of a child), getting married, a change in residency, and more.

Renewing or Switching Plans

If you're thinking of switching plans or if you want to renew your current health insurance policy, the deadlines that you need to pay attention to are essentially the same as those who are applying for new plans altogether. The thing that you need to keep in mind is that coverage for your 2014 plan will end on December 31, 2014. Coverage for a 2015 is designed to begin on January 1 of that year. As a result, you will need to have new coverage in place during the early weeks of the open enrollment period to make sure that there are no lapses in your coverage once 2015 begins.

Finding Health Insurance Information

If you're looking for more information about the types of health insurance policies that are available to both individuals and families in your area, the Internet is one of the most valuable resources that you have at your disposal. Visit the health insurance marketplace website for your state, type in your income information and browse the types of policies that are available. Even if you don't necessarily plan on getting a policy from that marketplace and would instead like to go with a private provider, doing the appropriate amount of research can still be a great way to make sure that you're getting both the best prices and the best policy for your situation. Even when the open enrollment period for state marketplaces hasn't started, you can still browse policy information on those websites.

With a topic as important as health insurance, the one thing that you always want to make sure of is that you're as prepared as possible. Preparedness leads to making the right decision when the enrollment period begins, which is something that will go a long way towards making sure that you're getting the type of coverage that will actually benefit both you and your family when you really need it.