Today, December 23, is the first key deadline to enroll in the health care marketplaces in order to have insurance coverage starting January 1. All uninsured people must sign up for insurance in 2014 or face a tax penalty. Today’s deadline however is especially important for certain groups of individuals:
- Those with pre-existing condition insurance plans end Dec. 31.
- Those who lost coverage when insurers canceled 2013 plans that did not meet the required standards of the Affordable Care Act.
- People in states where Medicaid is scaling back.
More than a million people have signed up for private insurance in the new federal and state marketplaces, President Obama said on Friday. And the marketplaces are reporting heavy interest in the last few days leading up to Monday deadline.
However, consumers will need to keep in mind that once they enroll they’ll still need to pay their first premium by January 1. This is done through the insurer directly, not through the marketplaces so because of this confusion, people have a few extra days, until January 10, to pay their premium and coverage will be retroactive to January 1.
Some states have extended their deadlines by a few days . Oregon and Maryland gave until December 27; Maryland, Minnesota and Rhode Island applicants have until December 31. But the vast majority will need to enroll by Monday and minimize any unexpected issues, especially with the large volume of consumers registering across the country. Regardless of where you live, you should call your insurer of choice to confirm its deadlines, your application, your payment status, and your effective date.
Consumers that miss the first deadline will have until open enrollment closes on March 31. However they won’t receive health insurance until they sign up. The uninsured must pick a plan by then to avoid a tax penalty.