It’s hard to believe, but we’re getting close to the end of 2014–the first year that the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (that is, the Marketplace and the Medicaid Expansion) have been in effect. That means one thing: open enrollment is about to be upon us once again. For those of you who are still uninsured, or who enrolled in a plan through a state-based or federal health insurance exchange (the Marketplace) at the start of the year, it’s time to take action. Open enrollment begins on November 15th. If you’re uninsured and want to enroll in a plan for the first time, this is your chance. If you’re in a Marketplace plan and want to change to a different Marketplace plan, this is the first day you can do that. And, importantly, if you’re in a Marketplace plan and you want to keep that coverage, you’ll need to take action during open enrollment to confirm your coverage.
To ensure that you have coverage beginning on January 1, 2015, you’ll have a month to take action once open enrollment begins. Let me say it again: You must enroll by December 15th to ensure that you have coverage on New Year’s Day. That’s because, no matter whether you enrolled last October or waited until March, all current Marketplace coverage terminates on December 31st. If you take action by December 15th, you’ll be able to maintain continuous coverage. If not, your coverage is likely to lapse. However, for the procrastinators among you, the open enrollment period continues until February 15th. If you do not enroll in a plan by February 15th, you will not be able to obtain coverage through the Marketplace for the rest of the year unless you experience a change in circumstances like getting married, having a child, or losing your job. However, Medicaid is the exception. There is no open enrollment period for Medicaid coverage and you may apply for it at any time. Still, it’s best not to experience a gap in coverage, as you never know when you might need it. After all, that’s the purpose of health insurance. For additional information on obtaining coverage, take a look at this helpful information.