Open Enrollment for Obamacare Approaches with Some Flexibility

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The opportunity to enroll in Obamacare without facing a penalty according to the Affordable Care Act is scheduled to end on March 31, 2014. However, President Obama has stated that he will be lenient with those individuals who are trying to enroll before the deadline, but are having difficulties or encounter a waiting period.

This is not an opportunity to procrastinate if you’re planning to sign up for health insurance within the Obamacare Marketplace. Those individuals with special needs will be given the opportunity to tell of their own special circumstances within the application process to avoid the penalty for missing the March 31 deadline.

On the Health Insurance Marketplace – often referred to as “the exchange”- applicants will have the choice to check a newly-added box within the application entitled the “special enrollment” box. Checking this box means that you are applying for a grace period to complete your application.

Please note that an exact date of extension has not been released, only that those individuals with extenuating circumstances or those who are experiencing difficulties will be able to explain their reasoning for signing up after the deadline. However, these individuals must begin the process prior to the deadline. Because a surge of traffic is expected on the federal Marketplace website as we draw closer to March 31, technical delays are possible; therefore, if you are planning to participate in a federal health insurance plan, you should make plans to do so as soon as possible.

If you are planning to mail a paper application, the deadline has been extended until April 7, 2014.

Once the enrollment deadline is closed, you cannot enroll in federal health insurance until the next open enrollment period starts, which will be November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015.

The penalty for not applying for federal health insurance nor having private health insurance is $95 for an adult, or 1% of your total annual income, whichever is greater.

Below is a direct link to the federal Health Insurance Marketplace:

https://www.healthcare.gov/

If you are having trouble accessing the federal Health Insurance Marketplace site, or if you would prefer talking to a representative, the government has provided a toll-free number for your convenience:

1-800-318-2596

 

Things to Know About Federal Health Insurance through the Marketplace

If you are considering applying for federal health insurance through the Marketplace, here are some facts that might help you in the process:

–       The cost of health insurance plans in the federal Marketplace are based on your income and household size

–       You can switch to a Marketplace plan even if you are eligible for health insurance with your employer

–       During enrollment periods, if you finish the enrollment process by the 15th of the month, your insurance coverage should start around the first of the following month

–       You are considered to be covered by health insurance and exempt from the uninsured fee if you have coverage through any of the following:

  • Private health insurance obtained on your own
  • Health insurance through your employer
  • Medicare
  • Medicaid
  • CHIP
  • COBRA
  • Retirement plan
  • TRICARE, VA Coverage

If you are considering not applying for federal health insurance through the Marketplace and you do not currently have private health insurance, these facts might be helpful:

–       The fee that you might be charged for being uninsured and not having enrolled in a federal health insurance Marketplace plan is called an “individual shared responsibility payment”

–       Even if you are not currently covered by a private health insurance plan, you might qualify for an exemption if:

  • You are only uninsured for less than three months of the year
  • The cheapest health insurance available to you would cost more than 8% of your total income (per household)
  • You qualify to not file a tax return due to a low-income level
  • You are eligible to receive service from an Indian Health Services provider
  • You are a member of a tribe recognized by the federal government
  • You are participating in a health care sharing ministry recognized by the federal government
  • You’re religion objects to the use of Social Security, Medicare or insurance
  • You are facing a hardship recognized by the federal Health Insurance Marketplace

Because the health insurance Marketplace is designed to help provide coverage to those who could not previously afford health insurance, you might be exempt from the fee for being uninsured if:

–       You are homeless

–       You have been evicted from your home within the last six months

–       You faced eviction or foreclosure from your home within the last six months

–       You are a recent victim of domestic violence

–       Someone in your immediate family has recently died

–       A natural disaster recently severely damaged your property

–       You have filed for bankruptcy within the past six months

–       You have had medical expenses you could not pay within the last 2 years

–       You have incurred new expenses from caring for an ill or aging family member

–       You were denied Medicaid because you live in a state that did not expand Medicaid eligibility

–       Your private health insurance cancelled you and there is no comparably priced plan in the Marketplace

If you have questions about any of the information from the Health Insurance Marketplace website, contact the Marketplace call center at 1-800-318-2596. This call center will be staffed around the clock during open enrollment periods.

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