So, you’ve decided it’s time to cut ties with your health insurance plan, but can you cancel your policy? The answer is both yes and no. You can cancel your health insurance, but if you do it at the wrong time or without a backup plan ready to go you could face fines or massive coverage gaps.
When To Cancel Your Health Plan
It’s best to cancel your health insurance policy once you have a replacement ready to take its place. If you don’t, you will have coverage gaps, leaving you vulnerable in the event of a health emergency. If you are looking to make the switch,Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is the best time to look into a different health insurance plan. The only time you can switch to a new health insurance plan outside of the OEP is if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). You qualify for an SEP if:
- You just got married
- Filed for divorce
- Just had a baby
- You or your spouse got a new job, losing your group health insurance coverage
- You’re moving outside of your coverage area
- Your current plan is no longer offering coverage in your area
- Your current health insurance company is out of business
The Right Way To Cancel Your Private Health Plan
It’s important to cancel your health insurance plan properly so that there is no confusion or loose ends. Below are the steps you can take to cancel your plan the right way.
Call your health insurance company
If you have health insurance through the Marketplace, you can login to your account and terminate the plan’s coverage. If you need help canceling your plan online, you call their customer service line. When you’re canceling a private health insurance plan, you can contact your insurance company directly. Your health insurance company’s phone number is printed right on your policy, health insurance card, and premium bills. Your health insurance provider may let you cancel over the phone. Occasionally, they may request that you fax or mail them additional documentation such as a confirmation letter.
Follow Your Plan’s Cancellation Process
Every health insurance provider has a cancellation procedure you must adhere to, such as ensuring your policy end dates are accurate to avoid a lapse in coverage. During your online or phone cancellation, an insurance agent will confirm the steps you have to take to successfully cancel your health insurance plan. Note the name of the representative and any cancellation confirmation numbers. This is important in the event that there are any procedure errors during the cancellation you’ll be able to quickly prove when the policy was ended.
Ask About Premium Refunds and Check Your Bank
If you paid your plan in full for the year and want to cancel it before it expires, ask your health insurance company if it will reimburse you for the months you’ve already paid for but have not used yet. Many insurers will issue a refund for the remaining time on your policy. Check your bank statements after your new health insurance coverage begins to ensure that the canceled plan is no longer in effect and charging your account. You’ll also want to make sure that the new policy is active and has taken the first payment if you have one.
Check Your Active Health Coverage
Don’t cancel your old policy until you’ve gotten a new one and reviewed the coverage start date. Make sure the active coverage periods don’t overlap, as it’s illegal to submit claims to two separate major medical policies. You’ll also want to check your monthly health allowance if your employer reimburses you for your insurance premium or other out-of-pocket medical expenses through a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) or health insurance stipend. This amount may affect your desired premium payment and the types of medical expenses you may get. Additionally, check the type of HRA your company offers. Integrated HRAs supplement employer-sponsored health insurance plans by helping to pay for deductibles, copayments, medical services, and other out-of-pocket costs, but cannot reimburse health insurance premiums.
Know Your Rights
Every state has consumer protection laws and insurance regulators who can help you with questions or complaints regarding your individual coverage. Your state laws may address health coverage requirements, prompt payment of claims, access to specific specialists, and certain treatment coverage. These protection laws apply to all plans, whether individual coverage or employer-provided health insurance, in order to safeguard your access to health services. If you submit false information on your health insurance application, your policy could be canceled. However, they cannot terminate your coverage if you made an honest error on your application. If you have unpaid premiums, your provider can terminate your coverage. In the majority of instances, your health insurance provider must give you at least 30 days notice before canceling your coverage due to missed monthly payments. This notice affords you the opportunity to appeal the decision or find a more cost-effective alternative.
How To Cancel Your Group Health Plan
You may need to cancel your employer-sponsored health insurance plan, even if you remain employed with the company. For example, your spouse or domestic partner’s employer may offer a more affordable plan option. Canceling an employer-sponsored plan is fairly easy if you follow these steps:
- Contact HR – Your company’s human resources department will be able to answer your questions and will be your primary contact through the entire cancellation process
- Ask about dates – Make sure you know the cancellation date, and make sure your new coverage will begin on or right after that date. You don’t want your plans to overlap.
- Complete the paperwork – If you’re opting out of your group plan early, there will likely be a bunch of paperwork that comes with it. Make sure you complete, sign, and submit these forms on time
In most instances, there is no fee for canceling a health insurance policy. However, some insurance providers do charge a cancellation fee. This would be specified in your plan’s terms and conditions, so you are aware of this policy before you buy it. While the federal government no longer imposes a tax penalty for not having health insurance, some states do. The District of Columbia, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have penalties for not having health insurance. Each state has its own system of fees. Check your state’s regulations before you cancel your health insurance, as you may qualify for an exemption from the tax penalties.
When Can’t I Cancel My Health Plan?
There are very few circumstances where you’re not able to cancel a health plan early. Some employer group health plans are paid for out of your paycheck prior to taxes being taken out. These plans are called Section 125 plans. They can be an excellent way to save money on insurance and taxes. If you have one of these plans, however, you can only change or cancel it during the Open Enrollment Period, or if you have a qualifying life event. Your HR department will be able to let you know if that’s the case with your group plan.
Additionally, if you are under 30 and have a short-term or catastrophic insurance plan, you may not be able to cancel your coverage early. Many of these plans are bought for a specific period of time and can’t be canceled early. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions of these plans before enrolling.
Why You Need Health Insurance
So far we’ve talked about how to switch health insurance plans, but we haven’t mentioned people canceling health insurance with no plans to get another plan. We know that sometimes when money is tight you start cutting expenses and health insurance is one of the first things to go. Especially if you’re healthy you think “well, I don’t use it, I don’t need to pay for it”, but that way of thinking can be detrimental. While being healthy is great, the objective here is to maintain that health throughout one’s life. Unfortunately, neither disease nor accidents can be predicted. Without health insurance, you are responsible for all of your medical expenses. Which poses a substantial threat to your financial and medical stability.
Health Benefits Of Health Insurance
The greatest benefit of health insurance is access to necessary medical care. Health insurance provides access to a comprehensive network of physicians, specialists, hospitals, and laboratories. This network collaborates with you and each other to help you prioritize wellness and prevention. In fact, the majority of healthcare plans include free preventative services, such as immunizations and screenings, to help you stay healthy and avoid illness and its consequences.
Additionally, the Affordable Care Act requires Marketplace plans to cover pre-existing conditions. This means that even if you already have a chronic illness, you will not be denied coverage or charged more for your pre-existing condition. Since you’ll have regular access to the necessary doctors and specialists, your healthcare plan will also assist you in managing the care for any chronic illnesses you may be living with.
Your health insurance provides you with the most effective means of maintaining your health. Having access to this type of continuous care can ultimately result in a longer and healthier life. In fact the mortality rate of adults between 17-64 without health insurance is 40% higher than those without insurance, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Financial Benefits of Health Insurance
Health insurance protects not only your health but also your finances. With an insurance plan, you will have less out-of-pocket healthcare costs, as your insurance will cover your medical services for a monthly premium. You will also be healthier, which will lower your out-of-pocket costs. Consider how much you would pay out of pocket for an unexpected medical emergency Which could easily cost you thousands of dollars.
Working With An EZ Agent
It can be frustrating to organize your own health insurance because there are so many variables to take into account. Why not let a professional do all the hard work for you, for free? A licensed EZ insurance agent can describe the advantages and disadvantages of each plan, and help you choose the best plan for your needs. EZ agents can save you hundreds annually on health insurance premiums. This is accomplished by our ability to search both on and off market for the most cost-effective plans. We can also locate and apply any discounts you may be eligible for. And we don’t stop at finding you a plan; we also assist with plan maintenance after the fact! We can assist you in filing claims with your insurance company and renewing your policy when the time comes. To begin, enter your zip code in the box below or call one of our licensed agents at 877-670-3575.