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What to Do If You Missed Obamacare’s Open Enrollment


Obamacare Open Enrollment for 2016 ended on January 31. If you didn’t get a chance to buy an Obamacare plan or purchase health insurance privately that met ACA requirements, you still have some options. Many people don’t know about Medical Cash Benefits plans and Short Term Medical Insurance that can help you manage healthcare expenses without insurance.

Here’s what you need to know about open enrollment and how to get the health coverage you need — fast.

What’s Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is the few months of the year that you can enroll in a new healthcare plan, switch plans, or get subsidies on healthcare plans in the Obamacare marketplace. If you don’t make a decision during the open enrollment period, you won’t be eligible for the comprehensive healthcare coverage you and your family needs. Unfortunately, many people miss the deadline to enroll in health insurance through the exchange or forget to switch to a plan that will provide them with adequate coverage.

young woman is upset she missed open enrollment for Obamacare

If you’ve been uninsured since open enrollment ended, you‘ll be paying the ACA tax penalty. In 2016, this is 2.5% of your adjusted gross income or $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18, whichever is higher. Open enrollment for 2017 runs from November 1, 2016, to January 31, 2017.

What About the Special Enrollment Period?

If you missed open enrollment, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. A Special Enrollment Period is opened up to those who are undergoing major life changes, such as getting married, having a baby, or going through a divorce. Life events where your health insurance coverage requirements and status have changed may make you eligible to get ACA-compliant health coverage without paying any extra fees or penalties. You can find out if you qualify for Special Enrollment by visiting the HealthCare.gov website.

Young woman ponders about special enrollment periods

Managing Healthcare Expenses without Obamacare

Medical Cash Benefits are an option for anyone worried about the excessive medical costs associated with being in an accident or being diagnosed with a critical illness. You can buy these plans independently of health insurance at any time.

One of the great things about these plans is you’ll get a lump sum cash benefit when you meet the policy’s criteria. For example, if you didn’t have any health insurance and were diagnosed with cancer, your plan would pay you up to $50,000 or more in cash upon diagnosis. It’s just that easy and works as a supplemental plan to cover certain situations. No medical exam is required, so you can get your policy almost immediately.

The closest thing you will get to a regular health insurance policy is Short Term Medical Insurance. You pay a monthly premium for these plans and receive medical benefits when you meet certain conditions. These plans are only available for 30 up to 365 days in some states, providing just enough coverage to get you through to the next Obamacare open enrollment period. If you’re worried about paying a very high price for doctor visits, prescriptions, and healthcare expenses as a no-insurance patient, short term health insurance may be perfect for you.

Just keep in mind that these plans are not ACA-compliant. You will still be responsible for paying the tax penalty for being uninsured. But, in some cases, the cost of temporary or supplemental insurance plus the tax penalty is still lower than an Obamacare plan.

Young woman is excited she has other options even though she missed open enrollment

The choice is yours.

Even though you missed Obamacare’s open enrollment period, you don’t have to live in fear of drowning in medical debt or pay a high price at the doctor’s office. Explore your options for Short Term Medical Insurance and Medical Cash Benefits plans so you can get the coverage you need, fast.