Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, one area that people have been struggling with the most has to do with deadlines. You can only sign up for coverage on a marketplace in Arizona during the open enrollment period each year. Failure to do so will not only deny you the coverage that you and your family needs, but it could also wind up costing you dearly by way of penalties once tax season rolls around. Luckily, the situation isn’t necessarily as complicated as it may first seem. There are five key things in particular about enrollment deadlines and about the Affordable Care Act in general that you definitely need to know about.
1. What Are Affordable Care Act Deadlines?
The major Affordable Care Act deadline to concern yourself with is when the open enrollment period begins and ends. To make sure that you’re covered in 2015, for example, open enrollment began on November 15, 2014, and ended on February 15, 2015. You are able to browse plans, purchase new plans and make changes to your existing plan all throughout this period. Keep in mind that sign up volume on the website tends to surge as the deadline approaches, so if you wait until the last few days you may experience issues with the Healthcare.gov website.
2. Who Do They Apply To?
Affordable Care Act deadlines apply to everyone, with a few key exceptions. If you go through certain life events like having a baby, getting married or similar situations, you may qualify for a special enrollment period that lasts 120 days. There are over 40 different life events that qualify for this extended enrollment period, so be sure to make sure that yours is on the list.
3. What Happens if You Don’t Enroll During This Time?
If you don’t enroll by the end of the aforementioned period each year, one of a few things will happen next. The immediate good news is that so long as you created an account on Healthcare.gov, you actually have until February 22nd to finish the process and get your policy.
If you didn’t create an account or don’t qualify for the extended deadline, you will owe a fee for every month that you go without coverage. The only exception is if you qualify for an exemption, which you do if you make between 100 percent and 250 percent of the federal policy limit.
The fee will vary depending on where you live, how many people are in your family, how much money you make and more. For 2014 taxes, for example, the penalty is $95 per adult, $285 for a family or one full percent of a person’s income, whichever ends up being higher. Each year the penalties increase.
In order to make sure that you’re still protected during this period, however, you can obtain short-term health insurance from an independent insurance broker. Even though you’ll still be subject to the fee, you will absolutely have the coverage that you need when you need it the most.
4. What Happens if You Want to Change a Plan?
If you have a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act and you want to make a change, you typically have to do so when the open enrollment period begins again each year. Once the November period begins, you can log into your account on the marketplace website, select a new plan and go from there. You can make many different types of changes during this period, including picking a completely new plan or even moving to an entirely new insurance company if you prefer.
You can also make changes to plans if you qualify for one of the 40 different life events that I mentioned earlier. Making a change under these situations is similar in concept to what happens if you missed the deadline altogether.
5. Can You Still Buy Private Insurance?
Under the Affordable Care Act you can still purchase private insurance outside the marketplace. So long as it qualifies for the minimum level of coverage as dictated by the ACA, you won’t be subject to any fees or penalties when tax season rolls around again the following year.
Contact Me Today With Questions and Concerns
If you live in the state of Arizona and have any additional questions or concerns about Affordable Care Act deadlines and open enrollment periods, or if you’d just like to talk to someone and make sure that you’re getting the best care possible, please contact me today. I’ve been in this business since 1996 and I’m always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. My services are available to you completely free of charge, so it doesn’t cost you anything to take advantage of my advice and knowledge.