26th birthday, life-changing events offers another chance to sign up for ACA insurance

     (Image courtesy of The Young Invincibles/Twitter)

    (Image courtesy of The Young Invincibles/Twitter)

    For most Americans, open enrollment and the chance to sign up for insurance through healthcare.gov ended back in March, but a number of different life-changing events can briefly reopen that window.

    “In addition to turning 26, if you are moving out of a coverage area, getting married, or having a baby, you might be eligible for a new health plan under what is called special enrollment,” said Sarah Lovenheim, communications director with Young Invincibles. The group works to expand economic opportunities for young adults.

    Young Invincibles launched an education campaign this summer featuring actress Emma Stone and basketball player Kevin Durant. Both were born in 1988 and turn 26 later this year. Durant and Stone probably have pretty good health coverage, but other 26-year-olds might find themselves booted off their parents’ insurance plan.

    Young Invincibles is using #bornin88 and co-hosting a Twitter chat at 3 p.m. Monday to answer questions.

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    Some people will have just 60 days after a life-changing event to find new insurance, others may be able to stay covered until the end of their current insurance plan year.

    “It really varies by the type of plan you have and the state you live in,” Lovenheim said.

    “We encourage people, as their 26th birthday approaches, to go to healthcare.gov, orwe can connect them with an in-person enrollment assister,” said Bill England state director for Enroll America.

    “What we saw during the open enrollment period was a wait-and-see attitude,” England said. His group is trying to overcome similar procrastination by sharing information at the venues where young people hang out.

    “At 26, what we find is that having health insurance is typically not at the top of the list,” England said. Still, he said of the people that enrolled in the Obamacare marketplace, 31 percent in Pennsylvania were under the age of 34.

    Wooing — or nudging — more healthy young people into the pool of the insured is often considered a cornerstone of making the Affordable Care Act succeed. But last week in the Philadelphia Inquirer, University of Pennsylvania health economist Mark Pauly laid out an argument that questions that belief.

    Pauly noted that the young people who bought insurance during the first ACA open enrollment had an above-average rate of health problems, which increases their cost to insurance companies.

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