Were you uninsured in 2018 and had to pay tax penalty? Are you currently uninsured for 2019 and missed the Obamacare deadline but wants to be insured?
In the past, if you went uninsured throughout the coverage year you may have had to pay a tax penalty, called the individual mandate penalty. However, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been changed slightly. One of these changes included the repeal of the federal individual mandate tax!
In 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that there would be a special enrollment period for those who paid their ACA penalty for being uninsured, who were uninsured in 2015, and who were unaware of the tax penalty until after filing their returns.
Since the shared responsibility payment has been repealed, there is no tax penalty and will be no special enrollment period in 2019.
Depending on where you live, you may have to pay for going uninsured as some states have legislation enforcing a tax at the state level.
Read on to find the answers to your questions about finding coverage in 2019 if you missed the open enrollment period and are uninsured:
QUESTION: Has the health insurance enrollment period (or Obamacare enrollment period) been extended?
Open enrollment for the 2019 coverage year ran from November 1st, 2018 through December 15th, 2018.
Open enrollment for the 2020 coverage year will run from November 1st 2019 through December 15th 2019.
Q: Where can I shop for coverage during open enrollment?
A: During open enrollment anyone can purchase health insurance through their state or federal market place, directly from an insurance company, or from private brokerages – like eHealth!
eHealth allows you to compare plan options from multiple insurance carriers side-by-side with plans that aren’t offered on government exchanges. Start looking now before open enrollment for the 2020 coverage year or if you experienced a qualifying life event and are eligible for a special enrollment period.
Q: Can I still get coverage for 2019?
A: While Open Enrollment is over and there is no nationwide special enrollment period, you still can get covered in a few different ways.
One way is if you qualify for a special enrollment period after experiencing a qualifying life event. Some examples of qualifying life events include the birth of a child, marriage, or loss of coverage through a parent or spouse.
You can also get coverage through Medicaid or CHIP. Medicaid and CHIP are programs that provide cheap or free health insurance to low-income household. Medicaid and CHIP do not have open enrollment periods which allows people to apply year round for coverage. Even if you don’t think your income qualifies, you should still apply especially if you are pregnant or disabled.
Additionally, you can get short term health insurance. These plans allow people to fill gaps in coverage. In some states, short term health insurance can last up to a year depending on legislation. You can also receive coverage quickly with some plans approving your application next day!
eHealth provides thousands of short term health insurance plans from hundreds of different providers. If you’re looking to fill a gap in coverage because you missed open enrollment, check out eHealth’s options.
While there is no nationwide special enrollment period this year, there is fortunately no tax penalty at the federal level for not having health insurance. Make sure to check with your state as some areas do have penalties at the state level.
Though you will not lose money to the tax penalty for going uninsured, your wallet may get hit hard with unexpected and expensive healthcare costs that you might incur over the year.
Check and see if you are eligible for Medicade or CHIP (which may be called different things in your state), if you have or will experience a qualifying life event in the coming months, or apply for short term health insurance with the help of eHealth to try and get some form of health insurance coverage for the rest of 2019.