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Q & A: Can I buy medical insurance when Exchanges are closed?

Jan 10, 2019

We printed this Q&A column in the Jan. 10, 2019 edition of The Lewiston Tribune

Q: Can I buy medical insurance when Exchanges are closed?

A: The answer is “NO” – unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment PeriodWith few exceptions, you must buy health insurance during the “Open Enrollment Period” (between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 annually). When the “Open Enrollment Period” ends the Health Exchange Marketplace is closed. That means individuals seeking health insurance can NOT buy it unless they have a “Qualifying Life Event” which opens a “Special Enrollment Period” or they qualify for Medicaid or CHIP coverage. This restriction prevents someone from waiting until they get sick before deciding to buy health insurance.

Qualifying Life Events that create a Special Enrollment Period include:

  • Losing other health coverage.
  • Moving, gaining citizenship, leaving incarceration
  • Getting Married.
  • Having a baby, adopting a child, or placing a child for adoption
  • Being Denied Medicaid or CHIP.
  • Other qualifying events may apply

Temporary Health Insurance is available outside of the Heath Exchanges.  An ideal solution for students and those who are between jobs. Short-term medical plans do not meet the definition of an ACA qualified individual health plan and are meant to be temporary insurance. Typically, these plans are only available for less than one (1) year and have lower premiums because they exclude pre-existing conditions, and have limited benefits, dollar caps and higher deductibles, among other limitations.

Idaho and Washington residents get free assistance from our ACA Exchange certified health agents, Dave Root or Tim Gleason. Contact them by calling 208-746-9646, emailing , texting (208) 518-0823 or contact us online at

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