April 15th marked the no-kidding-around end of the first open enrollment period for signing up for a new health care plan via the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The Obama administration (and several states) extended two weeks of wiggle room to those who (scout’s honor) started signing up before March 31 deadline but ran into a snag – may-be they got stuck in a technical vortex due to the last minute surge or couldn’t get through on the phone.
That’s all folks is the message until the next open enrollment, which doesn’t start until mid-November . . . unless you find yourself in one of these three situations. In which case you may get a second chance.
1. You experience a personal hardship
If you didn’t complete your enrollment due to a major life disruption — a natural disaster, for example, or a catastrophic personal issue such as domestic violence or a major illness — you may qualify for an extra 60 days to get a plan in place.
To seek a special enrollment extension, telephone the federal call center at (800) 318-2596 or your state’s exchange for more information.
2. You are eligible for Medicaid
There have been some misconceptions floating around that March 31 was the last day to sign up for Medicaid, the federal healthcare program for low-income Americans, which was recently expanded in many states.
In fact, there is no deadline around signing up for this program.
You can find out if you qualify and sign up anytime — for this as well as for CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) — without any deadline pressure.
3. You have a qualifying event this year
If, in the time between the end of the first enrollment period (March 31) and the start of end of the year (likely November 15), you get married, get divorced and lose your coverage be-cause you were dependent on a spouse’s plan, get laid off from a job that provided cover-age, or adopt or have a child, you can qualify enroll for health insurance.
In the marketplace, this special enrollment window generally extends 60 days from the time of the event.
If none of these three situations apply to you, you’re still not completely up a creek without an insurance paddle.
There are other, short-term health insurance products you can investigate, such as short-term medical (STM), which provides coverage for a limited amount of time, typically up to six months, or accidental medical insurance (which offers coverage for you or your kids in the event of accidental injury, including, for example, recreational activities).
However, these plans are often pricey, don’t cover pre-existing medical conditions, and, be-cause they don’t offer the minimum essential benefits required by the ACA, leave you open to a possible penalty fee and ineligible for tax subsidies.
These might be okay stopgap measures to help protect against unexpected illnesses and ac-cidents. A better bet: Get yourself ready to hit the ground running next November.
To find out more, go to GetInsured.com or call 855-224-9212 to get help finding the best plan for you.