Update: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new short-term special enrollment period from March 15 to April 30, 2015, giving people in 37 states more time to sign up for 2015 health insurance coverage through Healthcare.gov. Act soon to secure health care coverage for you and your family, and to avoid a tax penalty for 2015. For more information, click here. Check your state marketplace website for updates regarding state-run exchange special enrollment periods.
The Medicaid program was established in the early ‘80s to provide low-cost health coverage to Americans with limited resources. With the Affordable Care Act (ACA), free health care through Medicaid is available to even more people in low-income brackets. In fact, families making less than $31,000 a year could get coverage through Medicaid.
If you already have Medicaid, you meet the requirement under the new law that all U.S. residents have health insurance in 2014 and will not incur a tax penalty. The good news is that all you will have to do is check a box on your tax return indicating this is the type coverage you have.
If you currently don’t have health insurance, the Health Insurance Marketplace offers an easy solution to learn if you qualify for Medicaid — individuals and families can use a single application to determine eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Qualifying for Medicaid takes into account several factors that include household size, income, age and disability, though the details can vary between states. Note that if you are ineligible for Medicaid solely because your state doesn’t participate in the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, you may qualify for a hardship exemption and will not be required to pay a tax penalty for non-coverage. For more information and to apply for an exemption, click here.
If you do not qualify for Medicaid, the same application through the Marketplace on Healthcare.gov or your State Exchange will also let you shop during open enrollment (November 15, 2014 – February, 15, 2015) for an insurance plan to fit your budget and needs.
In the event that you lose coverage under Medicaid due to a change in situation outside this open enrollment period, you may also be eligible for a special enrollment period to purchase a Marketplace plan.