When you apply for health coverage after being released from incarceration, you may qualify for lower costs on monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. This will depend on your household size and income during the year you’re seeking coverage.
After you’re released, you have a 60-day Special Enrollment Period to sign up for private health coverage. During this time, you can enroll in private health insurance even if it’s outside the Marketplace open enrollment period.
After this 60-day Special Enrollment Period, you can’t buy private health insurance until the next Marketplace open enrollment period (unless you qualify for another Special Enrollment Period).
Because you aren’t eligible to buy private health insurance through the Marketplace while in prison or jail, you don’t have to pay the penalty that some others without insurance must pay. After you’re released, you must either have health coverage, pay the fee, or get an exemption.
If you’re in jail or prison but haven’t been convicted of a crime, you may use the Marketplace to buy a private health insurance plan. This assumes you are otherwise eligible to get coverage through the Marketplace.
If you’re incarcerated, you can use the Marketplace to apply for Medicaid coverage in your state. Medicaid won’t pay for your medical care while you’re in prison or jail. But if you enroll in Medicaid while you’re incarcerated you may be able to get needed care more quickly after you’re released.
A number of state Medicaid policies may influence your decision to apply for Medicaid while in jail or prison. These include:
- Whether your state has decided to expand Medicaid coverage to all adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level
- Whether incarcerated people can stay enrolled while in prison or jail. Remember that enrolling in Medicaid while incarcerated doesn’t allow Medicaid to pay the cost of your care while in prison or jail. But it may help you get needed care more quickly after you’re released.