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Most Popular Questions

How Long Does It Take to Sign Up for Health Insurance?

We get this question a lot. If you know exactly what you want, you could sign up for health insurance in 10 minutes.

The signup process for health insurance is quite simple. Depending on whether you apply for health insurance, short-term health plans or Medicare Supplement, you’ll be asked slightly different questions. That said, it will take about the same amount of time to enroll in any of these options.

If you’re not familiar with different types of health insurance, it wouldn’t hurt to learn about your insurance purchase by reading our easy guides to health insurance options.

Online: Depending on the website, it can take as few as 10 minutes to sign up for health insurance through an online application form. You’ll want to have your bank details and personal information on hand.

Once you enter your age and location information, it could take anywhere from a minute to an hour to choose a plan that you’d like to apply to. While you can filter plans based on their monthly cost, deductible or insurer, you also have the option of reading in-depth details about each plan. The amount of time that it takes to select an insurance policy will depend on how important of a decision that health insurance is for you.

Over the Phone: If you apply by calling a broker, HealthCare.com can connect you with a live broker in less than 20 seconds. We find that callers typically spend between 20 and 40 minutes on the phone when signing up for health insurance or a supplementary Medicare policy. Our partners will walk you through your options.

Taking the Next Steps

It doesn’t take long to sign up for health insurance – you easily look for your options through ours search & compare tool, and we can make the sign-up process simple for you. Search our database of individual health insurance plans to find the right plan for you.

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How Long Is the Health Insurance Waiting Period After I Sign Up?

There’s generally a short health insurance waiting period between when you enroll in coverage and when your plan actually begins to cover you. Your waiting period will depend on the type of insurance you enroll in, and when you purchase it.

If you’re not comfortable going without insurance for 90 days, it’s possible to fill the gap in your coverage with a short-term insurance plan.

Obamacare Insurance Purchased During Open Enrollment or Special Enrollment: If you’re buying health insurance on your own, your health insurance waiting period generally starts on the:

    • First day of the following month, if you’ve enrolled within 15 days of the start of the current month. For example, if you buy health insurance on November 14, your coverage can start December 1; or the
    • First day of the month after next month, if you’ve enrolled once 16 days or more have passed during the current month. For example, if you signed up for health insurance on November 27, your coverage will start on January 1.
    • Immediately, if you adopt or give birth to a child.

Certain states may shorten delays in coverage if you apply during the Open Enrollment Period.

How Long Is the Health Insurance Waiting Period After I Sign Up? | HelalthCare.com

Employer-Based Health Insurance: If your company offers health insurance, they can postpone your coverage for up to 90 days after you begin work. However, coverage can start as soon as your first day on the job, depending on the plan your employer selects.

You can receive employer-based insurance even if you apply outside of the annual health insurance open enrollment period – starting a new job is a “qualifying life event” that allows you to purchase major medical health insurance. Similarly, if you have coverage elsewhere that ends after you’ve started work, you can sign up for employer-based insurance subject to the same health insurance waiting period.

Medicare: As long as you plan ahead, it’s easy for Medicare and supplementary Medicare coverage to begin on the first day of the month that you turn 65 years old. There are a number of Medicare rules that determine whether you’re automatically enrolled and when your coverage will begin.

Medicaid: If your application for Medicaid is approved, then coverage will begin on either the day that you applied or the first day of the month that you applied. The specific rules will depend on your state, and will be detailed in your application.

COBRA: Since you’re continuing your health insurance when you elect to use COBRA, there’s no health insurance waiting period to enroll.

Taking the Next Steps:

Whether you’re looking for a few different Medicare coverage options or private health insurance, we can help you find it. Search our database of individual health insurance plans or look for a Medicare coverage option and find the right plan for you.

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  • Get an instant quote for health insurance plans
  • Compare prices from over 300 carriers
  • Find a plan that fits your budget
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Can I Buy Health Insurance That Is Not Obamacare?

Yes, it’s possible to buy health insurance that is not Obamacare, although there are significant drawbacks to doing so.

First, it’s important to understand that Obamacare is just another name for the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare sets the rules for health plans bought by individuals under the age of 65. When you buy health insurance on your own – and not through an employer – then you’re probably getting Obamacare. If your plan has Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum in its name, then it’s Obamacare.

That said, there are many options for health insurance that’s not Obamacare. These Obamacare alternatives generally have very large doctor networks.

  • Christian health ministries, or faith-based healthcare, are religious charities that share the cost of healthcare among their members. Premiums can be as low as $100 per month. These plans have very specific rules about what they do and don’t cover. Around 1 million people are enrolled in faith-based plans. You won’t have to pay a tax penalty if you rely on this coverage.
  • Short-term health insurance lasts for three months or less, with premiums as low as $50 per month. It won’t cover everything and will require you to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket before it shares the cost of your care. Short term plans are designed to affordably protect you in an emergency. They don’t cover pre-existing conditions or long-term health issues. Short term plans are popular with travelers, students, and those waiting for comprehensive coverage to begin. Around 160,000 plans are sold each year. You’ll have to pay a tax penalty if you rely on short term insurance.
  • Fixed-indemnity, or critical illness plans, give you predetermined amounts of money if you’re diagnosed with a certain disease (like cancer) or get into a specific accident (like losing a limb). You will have to pay a tax penalty if you use fixed indemnity to replace Obamacare coverage.
  • Paying for care on your own is always an option, although it’s not a very affordable one.

You can also buy separate coverage for specific needs, like dental or vision insurance, from a number of insurers. Obamacare plans aren’t required to include dental and vision care.

If you have minimal income, you can apply for Medicaid, which is low-cost government insurance. There are different requirements to receive Medicaid in each state, and it must be renewed at least once per year.

Obamacare means your major medical health insurance must have certain coverage rules and consumer protections. On one hand, Obamacare plans won’t reject you for a pre-existing condition. Plus, you won’t be subject to a penalty under the individual mandate imposed by the Affordable Care Act. On the other hand, Obamacare insurance will charge you for 10 essential health benefits, even those that you don’t want.

Taking the Next Steps

Whether you’re considering on-Marketplace health insurance or something off-Marketplace, it’s good to take some time and research your options. Search our database of health insurance plans to find the right plan for each of you.

Get a Free Health Insurance Quote

  • Get an instant quote for health insurance plans
  • Compare prices from over 300 carriers
  • Find a plan that fits your budget
Please enter a valid US Zip Code

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