I Need Health Insurance. I Missed the Obamacare Deadline. What Now?

A man using a laptop at a kitchen table seeks health insurance after missing the Obamacare deadline.

The formal deadline to purchase a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act while taking advantage of the prohibition against discrimination regarding pre-existing conditions was March 31. This was also the deadline for individuals to obtain coverage without incurring a penalty of either $95 or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater.

If you missed the deadline, however, you still have options. Here they are, in a nutshell:

  • Purchase a Short-Term individual or family policy from an agent or broker in the open market.  A short term policy will help bridge the gap until the next open enrollment. There are plans available through a broker. The plans however do not qualify as an ACA plan and, therefore, the annual tax penalty will probably apply up until you are able to get a qualified plan.
  • Apply under a special enrollment period. You can do this if you have had a qualifying life event, such as moving to a new state, loss of other coverage, and changes in family size (birth of a child, divorce, marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.).  These events will allow you to apply through the exchanges and potentially qualify for subsidies as well as guaranteed issue, regardless of your medical history.  You do have a time limitation on when you can purchase the plan after such qualifying event, in some cases 30 days and in other cases 60 days. It’s always best to act right away to prevent missing the deadline.
  •  Be a member of AmeriCorps, State and National, VISTA or NCCC programs.The Department of Health and Human Services has granted an additional 60 day window to members of those programs who lost coverage because of entering or leaving these programs. Full details at this link.
  • Apply for Medicaid or the Childrens Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  You can apply for these programs at any time if you qualify, and coverage can begin immediately.  For more information on whether you may qualify for Medicaid (depending on your state, family size and income level), click here.  This is not a solution for many, especially since not everyone meets the criteria to qualify.

 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What was the official deadline to purchase a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act without facing discrimination for pre-existing conditions?

The official deadline was March 31.

If someone misses the main deadline, what is one option they have to obtain short-term coverage?

They can purchase a Short-Term individual or family policy from an agent or broker in the open market. However, these plans do not qualify as ACA plans, so there might be an annual tax penalty until obtaining a qualified plan.

Under what circumstances can someone apply for health coverage under a special enrollment period?

They can apply if they experience a qualifying life event like moving to a new state, loss of other coverage, or changes in family size (birth, marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.). After such events, there’s a limited time to apply, sometimes 30 days and sometimes 60 days.

Can individuals apply for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) anytime?

Yes, if they qualify, they can apply for Medicaid or CHIP at any time, and the coverage can begin immediately. However, eligibility depends on state, family size, and income level.

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