All of the hoopla around the March 31 Obamacare deadline is finally over.  Now to find remedies for the hangover. The Obama administration has changed it’s tune on zero extensions for the March 31 Obamacare sign up deadline in order to accommodate difficulties with enrollment.  Yes!! In addition, information has recently surfaced regarding prorated penalties that may lessen the sting if your insurance coverage starts after April 1.  Update:  This date has changed to May 1 to coincide with sign up extensions. 

Extensions

Utah and the other 35 states that are using the federal exchange website are granted an extension ONLY if they check a box on healthcare.gov that certifies they attempted to sign up for Obamacare by March 31, 2014.  The extension for these peeps is defined as mid April.

  • April 7 is the deadline for those in the 36 states on the federal exchange enrolling using paper applications or applying by phone 1-800-318-2596.

Every state that is off of the main federal exchange has it’s own post Obamacare deadline rule for whether or not an individual is granted an extension and how long the extension will be.  In Oregon, the extension is until April 30 for everyone, whether you tried to sign up for Obamacare by March 31 or not.  Nevada is allowing an additional 2 months to sign up if you tried to sign up by March 31.  Maryland and Hawaii are granting “additional time” with no deadline date specified to those who tried to sign up by March 31. Healthcare.org has the full scoop on what the new deadline specifics are for each state, plus excellent information on individual state healthcare systems overall.

Special Enrollment Period 

If you qualify, a special enrollment period is available throughout the year for obtaining health insurance through the Marketplace Exchange or directly through individual insurance companies.   If you’ve experienced complex life events or circumstances that prevented you from enrollment, you may qualify.  The length of the period depends on the type of circumstance and may extend up to 60 days.

Life Events  – Losing a job with health benefits, moving, having a baby, getting married or other life events will qualify you.

Exceptional Circumstances – If you were involved with a natural disaster or serious medical condition that kept you from enrolling.

Obamacare Administration Errors – Many examples of both system and administration errors can be found on healthcare.gov in the Special Enrollment section.  The list may grow over time as types of errors encountered may still be unfolding.  The errors range from misinformation by someone assisting you in enrollment to caseworker delays to trouble occurring regarding a Medicaid application to the system crashing.

Other Coverage Possibilities

Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) – These programs for low income individuals will still be available to apply for throughout the year.

Medicare –  This health insurance program is for those who are 65 yrs and older.  

American Indians & Alaska Natives – If you are a member of a federally recognized tribe or an Alaska Native you have special Obamacare benefits.   You can enroll in the marketplace at any time and also change your plan in any month.  You also will be relieved of many additional costs such as copays.

Penalties

Prorated Penalty* –  The penalty will be prorated based on the number of months insured for 2014.  You can be insured either through the Obamacare exchange or through a private insurance company outside of the exchange.

Penalty Key Date – The date for which you must have coverage in order to not get a prorated penalty shifted from April 1 to May 1, 2014 to accommodate the sign up extensions.

Exemptions – There are many situations that allow you to be exempt from obtaining healthcare insurance which means you will not get a penalty if you don’t have it.

There you have it!  Hopefully, this will help clear up your confusion based headache.  MoneyDogz will continue to work to steer you through the fog by keeping you informed as rules change and new information surfaces.  We want you to know the important facts that will help you make this animal work for you and your families 🙂

* Special MoneyDogz Investigation Report:  We contacted  2 insurance agents in addition to a representative through the healthcare.gov main phone line in mid March to request an answer regarding a penalty for the following scenario.  If you enrolled on March 31, but were not actually covered until mid April due to processing time, how would the penalty be handled.  All 3 parties said that there would be no break whatsoever on the penalty because the rule stated that unless an individual was covered by April 1, they would pay the full penalty.  Not one of the experts knew about the prorated penalty.  Just sayin’….   The good news is that the prorated penalty has recently surfaced as a logical solution that was necessary. Woof!

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