Open enrollment for Obamacare ends March 31st, but depending on when you enroll beforehand dictates when you see your coverage. For individuals hoping to have health insurance by February 1st, Wednesday, January 15th, is the final day for enrollment. Officials feel there are now enough enrollment tools available that those who shied away initially when the marketplaces went online can easily navigate through the process.
Individuals who are leery of the online registration process can enroll by way of phone or through in-person consultations with Affordable Care Act (ACA) specialists. Those who miss the deadline on Wednesday will be placed into the next enrollment period for coverage starting March 1st.
“The numbers show that there is a very strong national demand for affordable health care made possible by the Affordable Care Act,” Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a news conference Monday afternoon. “More than 6 million Americans have now either signed up for private health insurance plans or for Medicaid coverage through the marketplace.”
Overall, however, the number of individuals with health coverage is around 9 million; approximately 3 million people have bought into private insurance programs or have extended coverage due to the age extension for children on a parent’s plan, with some 24 percent of those individuals in the key 18-to-34-year-old demographic.
“It’s hardest to enroll the younger people, and so they’re not going to enroll until the deadlines get closer,” said Gary Claxton, vice president and director of the Health Care Marketplace Project at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, D.C, as reported by HealthDay News. “What matters obviously is what happens by the end of March.”
HealthCare.gov, the official Obamacare enrollment website, indicates the following dates of importance:
During open enrollment for Obamacare, if you enroll:
- Between the 1st and 15th days of the month, your coverage starts the first day of the next month.
- Between the 16th and the last day of the month, your coverage starts the first day of the second following month. So if you enroll on February 16, your coverage starts on April 1.
- You may enroll in Medicaid or CHIP at any time.
- Small business owners may start offering insurance coverage to employees at any time.
- Open enrollment ends March 31st, 2014.
Individuals who do not have health coverage in 2014 may be subject to a penalty at the end of the year. This fee is either:
- 1 percent of your yearly household income. The maximum penalty is the national average yearly premium for a bronze plan.OR
- $95 per person for the year ($47.50 per child under 18). The maximum penalty per family using this method is $285.
The fee increases every year. In 2015 it’s 2 percent of income or $325 per person. In 2016 and later years it increases to 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person. After that it is adjusted for inflation.
To apply for health insurance through your state’s marketplace, visit HealthCare.gov.