Maine’s Insurance Superintendent Highlights New Enrollment Period for Individual Health Insurance Policies

Individual Policies Can be Purchased Until March 31, 2014

GARDINER – Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa is highlighting a new Maine law that establishes an enrollment period for people to sign up for individual health insurance policies.  The new law, passed by the Legislature earlier this year, is intended to provide consistency with the federal health care reform law (ACA).  Under the ACA, insurance companies cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, and sets March 31st as the deadline for people to enroll for a policy in the individual health insurance exchange.  The enrollment period is intended to reduce the likelihood that people will sign up for policies only when they become sick.

Superintendent Cioppa explained that after March 31, 2014, consumers will not be able to purchase a health insurance policy until the next annual enrollment period, unless there are special circumstances—such as getting married, divorced, or losing a job.  The same enrollment periods apply whether policies are purchased ‘on’ or ‘off’ the federally-administered health insurance exchange, also known as the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Policies sold on the federal exchange are expected to be available October 1, 2013.

This enrollment period change does not apply to health insurance policies purchased in the small or large group markets, or to health coverage obtained through self-insured plans.  It also does not apply to Medicare or to private Medicare supplement “medigap” or Medicare Advantage insurance policies.

Cioppa pointed out one special situation that will apply only in 2014.  Anyone with an individual policy that ends after January 1, 2014, will have a one-time limited period to buy another policy beginning 30 days before the policy’s end date.  This one-time limited enrollment period applies whether the new policy is purchased on or off the federal Health Insurance Marketplace.

“Important changes in the next 6 months will affect how and when consumers can buy individual health insurance policies,” said Cioppa. “Mainers need to understand these changes to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.  Consumers with questions about these changes – or anything related to health insurance – should contact the Bureau of Insurance.”

Consumers with questions can call the Bureau of Insurance toll-free at 1-800-300-5000 or visit the agency’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance).  Information about the federal Marketplace is also available at www.healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325).

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