The Affordable Care Act open enrollment period for those who are uninsured and don’t have insurance through their employer, Medicare, or Medicaid has ended, but if you missed the March 31st deadline there are still options available to obtain health insurance.
After the open enrollment period, you still have an opportunity to purchase health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace if you qualify for a special enrollment period.
Often times special enrollment periods are granted around certain life events that involve changes in an individual’s or family’s status.
These qualifying life events include a drastic change in your income that makes you eligible or ineligible for assistance in paying for health insurance, marriage or divorce, birth or adoption of a child, a change in employment status, or the death of a spouse or child.
You have 60 days from the date of the qualifying event to enroll in new coverage without incurring a tax penalty (paid on your 2014 taxes filed in 2015).
If I don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, what other health insurance options are available?
If you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, you can’t buy health insurance inside or outside the Marketplace until the next open enrollment period (starting November 15, 2014).
However, people who are eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can apply for those programs year-round.
These programs cover families and children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and others. In some states, they cover all adults below a certain income level.
You may also be able to find a private health plan outside the open enrollment period, though your selection may be very limited, and many such plans don’t count as “minimum essential coverage” (coverage that meets the Obamacare requirement to have health insurance). With these private plans, you also won’t get any tax credits or subsidies to help offset the cost.
What if I decide not to obtain health insurance?
While the Affordable Care Act doesn’t force you to purchase health insurance, you will be penalized if you decide not to purchase health insurance that qualifies as minimum essential coverage.
The health care reform tax penalty is based on your family size and income and you will not be penalized for a gap in coverage that is less than three consecutive months within a single year.
For 2014, the annual one-time tax penalty will be $95 per adult, or one percent of your total income, depending on your income. For uninsured children in your family, the penalty is $47.50 per child, with a family maximum of $285 for the year.
If you don’t get coverage this year, you may be able to qualify for an exemption and avoid having to pay the tax penalty on next year’s tax return, depending on your personal circumstances.
But it’s important to remember that, whether or not you’re exempted from paying the tax penalty, you’ll still have to pay for your own health care costs if you don’t have health coverage.
If you still have questions don’t worry. TurboTax has you covered. As with all tax laws, TurboTax will answer your questions to help you understand how the new health care law impacts you and your finances with TurboTax Health.