The Affordable Care Act, as most agents know, creates an annual open enrollment period in the individual market. Last year, it ran from October 1st through March 31st, and this year it will run from November 15th through February 15th. For health insurance agents, the end of the year is the busy period no matter what type of products you sell – group, individual, or Medicare – but when it’s over some agents wonder what they should do with their time.
As we’ve suggested in previous posts, this is a great time to learn the law, arm yourself with the tools you need to be successful, and gather prospects so you’re ready to go day one of the open enrollment period.
However, there is something else you can do – something that will bring in commissions now: help the millions of Americans who qualify for a special enrollment period. There are a number of “life events” that will allow individuals to sign up for coverage outside of open enrollment, meaning they don’t need to wait until November to enroll. Some of these include involuntary loss of group coverage, getting married, or moving outside your county, but there are a lot more. And a lot of people qualify.
For example, a recent Dallas Morning News article on this topic points out that, of the 5 million people in the state of Texas between the ages of 18 and 64 who are currently uninsured, 365,000 of them are eligible to enroll in individual coverage and possibly qualify for a government subsidy today. Nationwide, Enroll America estimates that 2.7 million people have experienced a qualifying event, leaving them uninsured and eligible for a special enrollment period.
That’s a pretty big number, and these prospects shouldn’t be ignored. Agents who figure out how to target them are in for a big payday.
As an FYI – because of the importance of this topic, we’re currently working on a white paper about Special Enrollment Periods under the Affordable Care Act. It should be complete in the next few weeks. Until then, you may want to take a look at some of the other white papers we’ve published.