On Monday, April 20, 2015, over 68,000 individuals had taken advantage of the federal government’s extended open enrollment period, which allows individuals and families to enroll in an Obamcare healthcare plan to avoid paying a fine on their 2015 taxes.1 The standard open enrollment period was extended after it was determined approximately 6 million people were surprised to learn they had to pay a tax penalty for not having coverage when filing their 2014 income taxes.
It appears, however, Americans are not aware of this little known rule if just over 1% of those eligible to enroll in a health insurance plan have done so. And the clock is ticking. The deadline to take part in this extended enrollment period and avoid paying a fine is April 30, 2015. That’s just one week away. Colorado, Idaho and Massachusetts are the only states not participating.
Since the launch of Obamacare, the health insurance open enrollment period has traditionally run at the end of the year. With the first year cycle of Obamacare on the books, it became evident that millions of individuals had no idea the new healthcare law required them to buy a health insurance plan until (surprise!) they were slapped with a fine when filing their income taxes.
The federal government has stated this will be the one and only year they will give Americans a reprieve outside of the open enrollment period to get their healthcare finances in order. If you have not yet applied for a health insurance plan and want to gain coverage yet this year, you need to act quickly.
It’s important to note this extended enrollment period shouldn’t be confused with the special open enrollment period. The special open enrollment period is offered to Americans who have a life situation arise anytime during the year, typically referred to as a qualifying life event. These events include:
- Getting married
- Getting divorced
- Having a baby
- Adopting a child
- Death of individual in household, reducing household size
- Any change of household size that will impact household tax subsidy
- Moving to a different ZIP code
- Losing employer health insurance coverage
- Having COBRA coverage expire
- Losing coverage from parent’s healthcare plan because child has turned 26 years old
- Having a change in income and no longer qualifying for Medicaid
- Having a change in income and need to adjust reported gross income to adjust tax subsidy
- Being released from jail
- Being discharged from the Armed Forces
- An error was made when originally applying for health insurance, which resulted in no coverage
There is only a 60 day window of opportunity to enroll in a healthcare plan during the special open enrollment period. Once the 60 day window has passed, individuals have to wait until the regular open enrollment period to obtain health insurance coverage or update their current coverage.
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1 68K+ Enrolled in Federal Exchange During Special Enrollment Period. California Health Line. April 21, 2015