The healthcare marketplace officially closed on January 31. That can mean big trouble if you did not enroll in a healthcare plan and do not have one through an employer. However, there are ways you can enroll after the enrollment deadline. There are some catches though. There is a special enrollment period outside of the open enrollment period. To be able to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace after the open enrollment period, you must have a qualifying life event.
What is Classified as a Qualified Life Event?
There are some common life events that allow you to enroll after the deadline. Some of these include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Getting married (or divorced)
- Losing health insurance coverage from another party
- Having a baby
- Adopting a baby or placing one for adoption
- Leaving prison
- Losing coverage due to age (i.e. turning 26 and losing parental coverage)
- Moving to another region (there are stipulations with this one)
- Gaining U.S. citizenship or a lawful presence
- Having a major income change
- Having a “complex” situation that prevented you from enrolling before the deadline
What To Do Next
If you qualify for one of these special circumstances, you should enroll as soon as you qualify. There is still a window of time where you can enroll based off of the life event but if you miss it, you will either have to wait for another life event or open enrollment the following year.
If you do not qualify for any of these life events, you will either need to find employment where you can enroll in a plan or pay the fee during tax season. Also, be sure to mark your calendar for the next open enrollment period beginning November 15.
You should be as prepared as possible for the penalty for not enrolling in a plan. This year, the amount has increased per person. There are two ways to calculate it and you pay the penalty that is greater of the two options. The first way this is determined is through a calculation of the percentage of household income. For 2016, the percentage has increased to 2.5%. The maximum deduction through this method is equal to the total yearly premium of a Bronze plan through the marketplace (the national average). The other way this is calculated is per person. For 2016, the rate is $695 per adult and $347.50 per child that is under the age of 18. The maximum penalty for the household through this method is $2,085.
Health insurance is required by law. If you missed the deadline and have questions about enrolling, contact us to explore your options.