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You’ve applied for Medicaid or CHIP. Should you apply for the Marketplace, too?

When you apply for Medicaid or CHIP, you might wait up to 45 days before learning if your application is approved. If you do not get approved, it’s good to have a backup plan. Getting coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace is one way to plan ahead.

The Marketplace is a website where you can shop and sign up for health insurance. It was created as part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Plans cover doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital stays, and more.

Each year, Marketplace open enrollment starts November 1 and ends December 15. You can sign up for a Marketplace plan even if you’re still waiting for a decision on your Medicaid application.

If you’re reading this between November 1 and December 15, you should consider signing up for a Marketplace plan. Otherwise, you won’t be able to sign up unless you qualify for a Marketplace Special Enrollment Period. You can qualify for that period if you’ve had a big life change like losing your health coverage, getting married, having a baby, and more.

To sign up for a Marketplace plan at healthcare.gov, you:

  • Must live in the United States.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or national (or be lawfully present).
  • Can't be incarcerated.

You will receive a decision on your Medicaid application no more than 45 days after you submit it. If you do get approved for Medicaid or CHIP, you should cancel your Marketplace coverage within 30 days.

There may be other ways to get care near you. Find more information here, here, and here.

Marketplace Quick Guide

Medicaid, CHIP, and the Marketplace

How to Apply for Medicaid - Step by Step

  1. Sarah applied for Medicaid at the end of November. It will take up to 45 days to learn if her application is approved – which might not happen until January, when Marketplace open enrollment is over.

    While she waits to hear about her Medicaid application, Sarah can sign up for a plan during Marketplace open enrollment (November 1 - December 15). By taking that step, she’ll still have health coverage even if her Medicaid application gets denied. (If she is approved for Medicaid, she’ll be able to cancel her Marketplace plan, but she must do so within 30 days.)

  2. Ana has had a Medicaid plan for the last two years. She usually renews her plan every June. This year, her application was denied because she no longer meets the income requirements. It’s not time for Marketplace open enrollment yet. But because she lost her Medicaid coverage, she qualifies for a Marketplace Special Enrollment Period, and she can sign up for a plan earlier than usual.

Did you apply for Medicaid, but haven’t received a decision yet? You might want to have a backup plan.

  1. Go to healthcare.gov.
  2. Look at plan options and find the one that’s right for you.
  3. Be ready to apply for a Marketplace plan on November 1.