Still Uninsured? It’s Not Too Late to Get Covered!
April 1, 2015
Confused by the Affordable Care Act and not sure if you qualify? Or maybe you just spaced out and missed the deadline for enrolling in healthcare coverage? It’s ok, it could happen to anyone. Unfortunately, last year began the mandate for health insurance; you will have to pay a penalty for being uninsured when you file your taxes if you went uninsured in 2014. The penalty for last year is $95 or 1% of household income, whichever is greater. The 2015 penalty, however, rises to $325 or 2% of household income (also whichever is greater). The deadline for purchasing health care coverage through HealthCare.gov officially expired on February 15th, with those who created accounts having up until February 22nd to register for a health plan.
However, if you are still uninsured, all is not lost! There are a variety of options still available to you even past the deadline.
Tax Season Special Enrollment Period
In addition, the Obama administration announced on February 20th that anyone who went uninsured during 2014 and is paying the penalty may sign up for a health plan through HealthCare.gov between March 15th and April 30th to avoid paying a 2015 penalty next year. This is being called a “tax season special enrollment period”. You will have to attest that you haven’t yet purchased 2015 coverage, that you have or will be paying the penalty for 2014, and that you only became aware of the mandate penalty after the regular 2015 enrollment window closed. If you purchase coverage by April 1st, your coverage would start May 1st. If you purchase coverage by April 15th, this option is also available to those living in California, DC, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Washington through their respective state exchanges.
Unfortunately if you live in Colorado, Idaho, or Massachusetts, you are not eligible for the tax season special enrollment period as your states have decided not to participate.
If income is an issue and/or you have uninsured children under the age of 19, you may enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program year round at any time. Even if you started the year on another plan, if you have experienced a reduction in income that might qualify you or your family for one of these programs you can apply immediately. Learn more here or at your appropriate state-run exchange in the list at the end of the article.
General Special Enrollment
You may still qualify for a special enrollment period if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You had a qualifying life event like having a baby, getting married, or losing your health coverage.
- You had an unexpected hospitalization, some other medical emergency, or faced a natural disaster which prevented you from enrolling.
- Due to misconduct by a non-Marketplace enrollment assister, you weren’t enrolled in a plan, were enrolled in the wrong plan, or didn’t get the tax credit or reduction you were eligible for.
- You have moved permanently into a new state outside your plan’s coverage area.
- You have just become an American citizen.
- You were recently released from incarceration.
- You are a member of a federally recognized Native American tribe (including Alaska natives). Tribal members are eligible to enroll on HealthCare.gov year round with no limitation.
- You have a change in income or household status that affects your eligibility for premium tax credits or cost-saving reductions.
Visit Healthcare.gov for a full list or criteria and qualifying questionnaire to help you determine if the special enrollment period applies to you.
If all of this seems confusing…
that’s because it is! It’s enough to make the heads spin of the people who are experts in navigating its complexities, let alone the average person just looking to purchase a health plan. Fortunately, the Alliance for Affordable Services partners with the American Health insurance eXchange (AHIX) to help assist members with finding the proper health plan for them. Professional licensed health insurance specialists can help with insurance quotes, accurate up-to-date details on the plans themselves, and even configuring small business health plans. Call 866-661-1024 or visit the Alliance’s special insurance information website for more information.
Links to Health Exchange Marketplaces
- USA (including all the states not listed below): HealthCare.gov
- California: CoveredCA
- Colorado: ConnectForHealthCO
- Connecticut: AccessHealthCT
- DC: DCHealthlink
- Hawaii: HawaiiHealthConnector
- Idaho: YourHealthIdaho
- Kentucky: Kynect
- Maryland: MarylandHealthConnection
- Massachusetts: MAHealthConnector
- Minnesota: MNSure
- Nevada: NevadaHealthlink
- New Mexico: BeWellNM
- New York: NYStateOfHealth
- Oregon: CoverOregon
- Rhode Island: HealthsourceRI
- Utah: Avenue H
- Vermont: HealthConnectVermont
- Washington: WAHealthPlanFinder