ACA Deadline Extension Cheat Sheet
The current healthcare marketplace can be confusing. Understanding your options, especially as they relate to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), requires some study. If you are thinking about purchasing a healthcare policy through the ACA, you need to be aware of certain dates. The following are particularly important:
- March 31, 2014 – The date open enrollment in the ACA ends for 2014. After this date, you are unable to purchase an ACA plan through the marketplace unless you have a qualifying life event. These “life events” include marriage, childbirth, adoption, divorce, and job loss. If you purchased a policy between March 15 and March 31, the plan will take effect on May 1.
- November 15, 2014 – The anticipated date open enrollment will begin for 2015.
- January 15, 2015 – The currently scheduled date for open enrollment for 2015 to end.
A few exceptions to these dates exist, including:
- Enrolling in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – Both of these programs are combined efforts of state and federal government to provide for those with low incomes. You can submit applications to these programs at any time. To find out if you qualify for one of these programs in your state, you need to fill out the Marketplace application here.
- Small Businesses – Employers are able to offer health insurance coverage through the SHOP marketplace, agents, or brokers at any time during the year.
If you currently have a healthcare policy that was set to be cancelled in October 2014 for not meeting the ten essential requirements of ACA marketplace plans, the deadline for finding a new plan has been extended for an additional two years.
If you purchased a Marketplace policy before March 31 and need coverage during the gap, or you are unable to purchase an ACA approved plan, you can still obtain coverage with Short Term Medical (STM) insurance. An STM plan doesn’t meet the ten essential requirements, but it can provide you with affordable interim coverage. In addition to being a solution to your insurance gap, STM is also worth considering if:
- You’re a retiree in need of coverage before enrolling in Medicare.
- You’re a student transitioning from a parent’s plan.
Though not a long-term solution – STM is intended for those who need coverage for less than a year – the cost may align better with your current budget and lifestyle. Note: since STM polices are not compliant, you will have to pay up to a $95 (or 1% of your annual income, whichever is higher) penalty in 2014, a number that will increase in 2015 and 2016.