ACA Open Enrollment Deadline: What Are Your Insurance Options?

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The 2016 cut-off for open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be on Jan. 31, 2016. With the deadline confirmed, here are the choices available to Americans not covered by a plan through their employer:

  • Enroll in a Marketplace Plan – You can purchase a Marketplace plan through your state insurance plan before the deadline. If you purchase a plan before Dec. 15, the policy will begin on Jan. 1. If you purchase between Jan. 1 and Jan. 15, the policy will start on Feb 1. Plans purchased after Jan. 15 will have a start date of March 1. Barring a life event – marriage or job loss, for example – you will not be able to sign up for a marketplace plan after the deadline.
  • Enroll in an ACA Plan Outside the Marketplace – Though the Health Insurance Marketplace will be closed after Jan 31, you will still be able to purchase ACA-compliant plans from individual insurance carriers at any time. However, you will not be able to take advantage of the premium-reduction tax credit available on plans purchased through the Marketplace.
  • Stick with Your Current, Non-Compliant Plan – Under the original ACA provisions, consumers could not keep their grandfathered health plans if they were non-ACA compliant. In 2013, the Obama administration announced it would extend the deadline for switching from a non-compliant policy until 2015. In March 2014, The Department of Health and Human Services started a transitional relief program which allowed some states to extend renewal of non-compliant plans until 2016, permitting them to remain in effect until late 2017. If your state is a participant in the relief program and you’re comfortable with your current policy, you may want to keep it.
  • Purchase Short-Term Medical (STM) Insurance – STM policies can be purchased by those looking for a temporary solution to fill the gaps in their health coverage. An STM plan can cover you while you wait for another plan to kick in, or even if you’re not sure which long-term plan is for you and you need more time to figure out your options.

Short-term medical (STM) plans don’t meet the ten essential requirements for ACA plans. By enrolling in an STM policy, you would have to pay a $695/adult ($347.50/child) penalty in 2016, or 2.5% of your adjusted gross income, whichever is higher. You do not have to pay a penalty if the non-compliant policy is held no longer than two months according to


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