Accessing Health Insurance throughout the Year

Need health insurance, but the Marketplace open enrollment is closed?

On COBRA, but wondering if you can switch to a Marketplace plan?

Think you might qualify for Medicaid, but not sure when you can apply?

Keep reading . . .

The Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) created State Health Insurance Marketplaces, where people can access private health insurance plans with certain consumer protections.  These Marketplaces are available in every state, but some are run by the state and some are run by the federal government.  For more information about your state Marketplace, visit and click on your state. 

You can only buy health insurance plans in the Marketplaces during an annual “Open Enrollment Period” or during a “Special Enrollment Period.”  The open enrollment period for 2014, was from October 1, 2013, to March 31, 2014.  The open enrollment period for 2015, will be November 15, 2014, to February 15, 2015.

Although open enrollment for 2014 is now closed, if you qualify for a “special enrollment period” you have 60 days to buy a Marketplace plan.  There are certain “qualifying events” that make you eligible for special enrollment, such as moving to another state or losing your health insurance through your job.  More information on qualifying events can be found here or visit, and click the button that says “Find out if you qualify for a special enrollment period.” 

If you are currently on COBRA and are wondering if you can move to a Marketplace plan even though open enrollment is over, you have to wait until the next open enrollment to move off your COBRA plan. 

If your COBRA is about to end, you can move to a Marketplace plan through a special enrollment period.

If you become eligible for COBRA at some point during 2014, you can choose to accept your COBRA, or you can go straight to a marketplace plan.  Click here for more information.

If you think that you are eligible for Medicaid in your state, you can enroll throughout the year.  For more information, visit, and click the button that says “Find out if you qualify for Medicaid.” 

Are you a recent college graduate and wondering about your health insurance options?  Click here for more information.

For more information about health insurance options, health care reform, and other types of cancer survivorship issues, visit


Joanna Fawzy Morales, Esq. is a cancer rights attorney and CEO of Triage Cancer, a national nonprofit organization connecting people to cancer survivorship information through a national Speakers Bureau, educational events, and online tools. She has served the cancer community for more than twenty years, including at Triage Cancer, as an Adjunct Professor at Loyola Law School teaching a course in Cancer Rights Law, and at the John Wayne Cancer Institute’s Psychosocial Care Program. Mrs. Morales has presented hundreds of seminars on employment, insurance, and health care issues throughout the country. She has been published in a variety of publications and serves on numerous health community committees and boards, including as Chair-elect of the American Cancer Society California Division Board of Directors. Mrs. Morales was also recognized by the Los Angeles Daily Journal in 2010, as one of the Top 20 Attorneys in California Under the Age of 40.


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