According to new research from Enroll America, nearly 7 million people may be eligible to enroll in health care coverage in the federal marketplace between open enrollment periods because of qualifying life events.
Qualifying life events include marriage or divorce, having a baby, moving to a different county, gaining citizenship, getting out of jail and involuntarily losing health-coverage, which can include losing health insurance as a result of losing a job, aging off a parent’s plan, having COBRA coverage expire or losing eligibility for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). According to the report, moving is the most common qualifying life event among the uninsured, with 1.8 million uninsured Americans likely to move between open enrollment periods.
In Texas, there are an estimated 365,691 uninsured people who have experienced a qualifying life event since the end of open enrollment, making up over 7 percent of the total uninsured population. Over 71,000 got married, over 77,000 gave birth and over 6,000 gained citizenship. Moving between counties – the lesser known but most common qualifying life event – is something that over 234,000 uninsured Texans did this year.
According to Mimi Garcia, Texas director of Get Covered America, there also are more than 800,000 Texas children who qualify for but are not enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP – programs that they can be enrolled in at any point throughout the year.
Enroll America is working to make sure that uninsured families are aware that they do still have options, even though open enrollment ended on March 31 and doesn’t begin again until November 15, 2014. “We’ve been out to dozens of back to school events across the state,” said Christine Sinatra, spokeswoman for Enroll America. “For a sizable number of Texans who are uninsured, there isn’t a need to wait.”
Close to 1 million Americans attempted to access the federal exchanges since the open enrollment period ended, showing that there is still significant interest but that there is also confusion around when enrolling is an option.
“In Texas, we saw people need a deadline,” Garcia said. “Folks waited until the last minute and others waited too long. We’re talking with those folks and saying, OK, well maybe there’s a way in before Nov. 15.”