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10 things to know about the Obamacare deadline

The deadline for purchasing individual health insurance is quickly approaching, although some will get some extra time to complete their application.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 26, 2014 12:50PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyJust a handful of days remain to buy a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act. The March 31 deadline is less than a week away.


Pills © ImageShop/CorbisIf you have qualifying health insurance through your job, or through a government program like Medicare or Medicaid, or you have purchased an individual policy, you're good to go. If you still haven't signed up for coverage, and aren't exempt, you need to act.


1. Deadline

The deadline to enroll for individual health insurance is March 31. But don't wait until the last minute, because it's not a 10-minute process. The application and selecting a plan take some time to complete.


Unless you qualify for an exemption (more on that below), this deadline is for everyone, regardless of whether or not you're eligible for a subsidy. (Note: Only those who buy health insurance through a government online marketplace can qualify for a subsidy to help make premiums more affordable.)


With few exceptions, you cannot buy an individual health insurance plan after March 31, period. For coverage starting in 2015, the open enrollment period begins Nov. 15.


2. Deadline grace period

If you've begun the application process to sign up for health insurance by the deadline and cannot complete it because of technical issues or other problems, you'll be given a grace period to complete your application.


The Washington Post reports:

Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

3. Special life circumstances

After the deadline, you won't be able to buy individual health insurance at all unless you have a qualifying life event like divorce, unexpected job loss or adding a new member to the family.


4. Required coverage

In order to comply with the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, your insurance plan must meet the minimum essential coverage standards, Kaiser Health News said.


5. Uninsured penalties

If you don't get insurance by March 31, you will face a penalty of $95 per person (or $47.50 per child under age 18), or 1 percent of your yearly household modified adjusted gross income, whichever is greater. "Only the amount of income above the tax filing threshold, $10,150 for an individual, is used to calculate the penalty," HealthCare.gov says.


"For example, for a single person whose MAGI is $35,000, the penalty would be $249 ($35,000 – $10,150 = $24,850 x 1 percent = $249)," Kaiser said.


Remember, $95 is the bare minimum penalty. You will likely have a bigger penalty if you don't get coverage.


6. Penalties after 2014

The penalty for not having insurance will increase every year. In 2015 it's 2 percent of  income or $325 per person. In 2016 you'll pay $695 per person or 2.5 percent of income.


7. Child penalties

If you claim your child or children as dependents on your tax return, you will be responsible for any uninsured penalties they accrue.


8. I paid my penalty. Now what?

Take note that paying the penalty fee doesn't provide you with insurance coverage. You'll be responsible for footing the entire bill for any medical care you receive.


Thus, if you don't get insurance and you rack up medical bills, you're responsible for paying both the penalty fee as well as the entire cost of your medical bills. "They won't be protected from the kind of very high medical bills that can sometimes lead to bankruptcy," HealthCare.gov says.


9. Gap in coverage

If you enroll in a health insurance plan by the March 31 deadline, with coverage that begins May 1, you will not owe a penalty for the four preceding months, according to HealthCare.gov.


If you have a coverage gap after open enrollment ends on March 31, you will only be faced with a fine if the gap is more than three consecutive months, because it qualifies as a "short coverage gap exemption."


But, according to the Internal Revenue Service, "If you have more than one short coverage gap during a year, the short coverage gap exemption only applies to the first."


10. Any insurance exemptions?

You may be exempt from health care coverage if you meet one of several conditions listed on the exemptions page at HealthCare.gov, including, but not limited to: income below the federal income tax filing threshold, you're a member of a federally recognized tribe, or you're a member of a recognized religious sect with religious objections to insurance.


Examples of hardship exemptions include: recent eviction or foreclosure, recent bankruptcy, you're in jail, or you recently experienced domestic violence.


If you're uninsured, have you purchased health insurance yet?


More on Money Talks News:

15Comments
Mar 26, 2014 2:13PM
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1. If you like your doctor, you can't keep your doctor.

2. If you like your insurance, you can't keep it.

3. It's not "affordable".

4. Few Doctors will accept it.

5. Few Hospitals will accept it.

6. Young adults and minorities aren't buying it.

7. Your deductible will be outrageous.

8. If you don't buy the crappy Obamacare, you'll be taxed.

9. The House, Senate and President are exempt from Obamacare - because it's only good enough for their low class subjects.

10. Ha Ha - The Democrats  sure showed us all, by shoving this piece of crap legislation down all our throats while they controlled the House and Senate, and there weren't enough sensible dissenters in the ranks to stop it.

Mar 26, 2014 1:33PM
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The 11th---and perhaps most important---thing you need to know about the Obamacare deadline is that it may not exist as such.  Current rumors are that the Administration will, once again, extend the deadline for enrollment.  Here we go with yet another Executive Order desperately trying to make mistakes go away.  All hail the King!
Mar 26, 2014 1:32PM
Mar 26, 2014 1:43PM
avatar

1. It will be extended

2. It will be extended

3. It will be extended

4. It will be extended

5. It will be extended

6 It is similar to an Obummer "red line"

7. Etc ........ etc through 10

Mar 26, 2014 2:09PM
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 but sebelius just last week said there would be no more extensions.  oops.  is this not a total govt screw up or what?
Mar 26, 2014 1:56PM
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Didn't they just extend the extended extension?
Mar 26, 2014 2:05PM
Mar 26, 2014 2:21PM
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 gonna love how the media will spin this crap into being a good thing.  in two more weeks it will be extended again
Mar 26, 2014 3:17PM
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There is an executive order for that.
Mar 26, 2014 4:23PM
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And yet ANOTHER article from the bulls**t shoveling media promoting one of many buckets of bulls**t handed out by D.C.
Mar 26, 2014 1:48PM
avatar
Good news for T-Baggers. Obamacare covers mental illness.
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