Affordable Care Act

Three Big Tips if You Miss the Obamacare Deadline

Published on December 15, 2016

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Did you enroll in a 2017 health insurance plan by December 15, 2016? If not, you may find yourself uninsured for the month of January. February 1, 2017 is generally the earliest your coverage can start if you apply on December 16 or later. So, what can you do?
Here are three tips to help you get a layer of protection for January and minimize your risk in the new year.

Apply for a short-term health insurance plan

Short-term health insurance isn’t going to meet your coverage requirements under the Obamacare law, and it won’t cover things like preventive care or pre-existing medical conditions, but it can still provide you with a valuable layer of protection in January. Short-term coverage is relatively affordable ($116 per month on average in 2015) and flexible (you can buy it in monthly increments). It’s possible to be turned down for short-term coverage, but if the thought of being uninsured in January scares you, short-term plans can give you some peace of mind knowing that you have some coverage in case of unexpected illnesses or injuries.

Consider accident or critical illness insurance

These are insurance products that pay money directly to you in case you have a serious accident or are diagnosed with a serious medical condition. You may then use the money to pay for your medical bills or for other important expenses (like your rent or mortgage) while you’re in the hospital or unable to work. Accident and critical illness insurance plans are not health insurance plans and will not meet your coverage requirements under the Obamacare law, but they can provide you with an additional layer of financial protection in case an unexpected serious medical issue arises. Some people use these insurance plans as a second layer of coverage on top of their major medical health insurance plan.

Enroll in a 2017 Obamacare plan before January 15, 2017

You may have missed the December 15 deadline for coverage beginning January 1, but you can still make sure you have coverage in place by February 1 if you enroll before by January 15, 2017. If you miss the January 15 deadline, you may not be able to get coverage that begins before March 1, 2017. Remember, going without Obamacare-compliant health insurance for more than two consecutive months in a single year can potentially leave you open to a significant tax penalty on your federal tax return.
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No one wants to have a gap in their health insurance coverage, but with the three tips above you can minimize your risk and keep your 2017 coverage gap as small as possible. If you’re looking for short-term coverage, accident or critical illness coverage, or Obamacare-compliant 2017 health insurance coverage, visit eHealth.com for a broad selection of plans to choose from, specific details about each plan, and online tools that can help you find the best match for your needs.

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