The 2016 Open Enrollment Period began on Nov. 1, the third one since the ACA’s Marketplaces launched in 2013, and in it’s first 5 weeks over 2.8 million Americans have signed up. Healthcare experts predict a total of 14.7 million Affordable Care Act enrollees by the end of 2016, compared to 2015’s 9.1 million.
December 15 is the first key deadline to enroll for consumers. This ensures coverage that starts for the New Year, January 1, 2016. Here’s the full list of deadlines:
- November 1, 2015: Open Enrollment begins. Apply for or change your coverage.
- December 15, 2015: Deadline in order to have coverage that begins on January 1, 2016 (if you apply on December 16 you’re coverage will most likely not start until February 1).
- December 31, 2015: Coverage ends for 2015 plans. You will be auto-renewed if you don’t change your plan.
- January 31, 2016: This is the last day you can apply for 2016 coverage before the end of Open Enrollment.
2016 Tax penalty is increasing to $695 per adult
All Americans are required to have health insurance as directed by the Affordable Care Act. Failing to enroll for 2016 will likely require you pay a tax penalty which will be the greater one of these two:
- $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, for a maximum of $2,085 per family. In 2015, this was $325 per adult and $162.50 per child
- Or 5 percent of your income above the tax filing threshold; in 2015, this was 2 percent in 2015
Again, 14.7 million Americans are predicted to enroll in ACA-compliant policies. But according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency tasked with the nation’s healthcare, this number is not a given. The HHS expects 8.1 million plan renewals and 4.5 million new additions; these are people without Marketplace coverage prior to the OEP.
Compared to 2015, current enrollees’ renewals are up, while new additions are down. However, as the 2016 OEP actually runs two weeks longer than the previous one, consumers have more time to enroll. This includes purchasing new plans or making changes to existing plans. And, the current figures only include states utilizing the federal Marketplace. Plans purchased through state-run exchanges, along with the District of Columbia, along with private insurance customers, are not yet included. By the 2016 OEP’s conclusion, the HHS predicts 10 million enrollees.
If you’re satisfied with your current coverage, your job is done. You’ll be automatically enrolled in the same plan after Dec. 15, 2015. Residents of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington have an extended deadline to enroll or make changes – until Dec. 23, 2015 – and their coverage will still begin on Jan. 1, 2016.