Marketplace open enrollment continues until March 31

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By Consumers Union on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Did you miss the December 23 open enrollment deadline to buy health insurance on the marketplace? Don’t worry – open enrollment continues until March 31, 2014 for people looking to get signed up for Obamacare this year.

About 2 million Americans signed up for private health insurance through federal and state marketplaces before December 24, 2013. Coverage for these consumers began on New Years Day. But because this is the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act’s new health marketplaces, you have an extra three months to sign up.

The federal healthcare.gov and state marketplaces are functioning much better after initial glitches so you can shop for coverage and pick a plan that addresses your needs. And big discounts are still available for middle and lower income families. For example, a family of four with income all the way up to $94,000 per year can qualify for at least some discount.

If you do not have health insurance by March 31, you will be required to pay a penalty at tax time next year. But if you sign up for a plan on or before March 31, you will not have to pay the shared responsibility payment for any of the months you were uninsured in 2014.

For most people the next open enrollment period after March 31 will begin on November 15, 2014. But certain circumstances like losing a job, divorce, or having a baby will qualify you for a special enrollment period.

Make sure to get covered! Find out more about your options using our Consumer Reports online tool, Health Law Helper.

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