Missed the Deadline to Enroll in Health Insurance, Now What?

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We’ve been telling you since November that you need to have health insurance coverage and/or enroll in a Marketplace health care plan. Otherwise, you could face a hefty penalty when you file your 2015 taxes next year. Leer en español.

By now, you’ve missed the deadline to get a plan through a federal or state Marketplace. You needed to enroll before Feb. 15.

The good news is that you have a few options.

If You Haven’t Filed Your 2014 Tax Return

Last week, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a special enrollment period between March 15 and April 30 for a select group of people. You might be able to enroll in a Marketplace health care plan during this time, if:

  1. You file your 2014 tax return after Feb. 15, 2015
  2. You aren’t enrolled in coverage through a federally-facilitated Marketplace for 2015
  3. When you filed your 2014 tax return, you paid the fee for not having health coverage in 2014
  4. You attest that you first became aware of, or understood the implications of, this penalty after the end of open enrollment on Feb. 15, in connection with preparing your 2014 tax return

You can find out if you are eligible at healthcare.gov. Remember, if you do qualify for this special enrollment period, you will need to enroll between March 15 and April 30.

Special Enrollment Period

If you have a qualifying life event, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. These life events include:

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a baby
  • Moving
  • Changing jobs
  • Gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe

Basically, if your life changes in such a way that you find you need new or different health insurance coverage, you may become eligible to enroll in a Marketplace plan outside of the set open enrollment period (Nov. 15-Feb. 15). However, this special enrollment period only lasts for 60 days following the qualifying life event. So don’t delay!

Private Health Insurance Plan

MissedMarketplaceEnrollmentAlternatively, you have the option to enroll in a private health insurance plan that meets the requirement for minimum essential coverage. This means you will avoid paying a penalty.

However, you cannot purchase this private plan through a Marketplace, and they aren’t always easy to find. You can locate and choose these plans through some insurance companies, agents, brokers and online health insurance sellers. If you opt to purchase one of these private plans outside of the Marketplace, you will not be able to get a premium tax credit to help you pay the monthly premium amount.

The key is to make absolutely sure that the private plan you select will qualify as minimum essential coverage. Not all health insurance plans meet this requirement.

Get more information on the complicated intersection of health care and taxes.

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