It may not be too late to check out Obamacare

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By Consumers Union on Monday, April 21st, 2014

It may seem hard to believe after such a poor start, but 8 million Americans have now signed up for insurance in the new Health Marketplaces — far surpassing the original goal of 7 million. Just as important, about 35 percent of new enrollees are under the age of 35 — a key factor since young people are usually a lot healthier and should help keep premiums down for everyone.

Add to that those now enrolled in Medicaid, and Obamacare has helped more than  11 million Americans get health coverage. Pretty amazing.

But there’s more to come. The initial sign-up period has ended, with the next open enrollment period starting up Nov. 15, but that doesn’t mean coverage in the marketplaces  is completely closed.

Just like health insurance through an employer, Obamacare includes certain “special enrollment” rules that give you additional opportunities between now and November to sign up or switch plans in the event of a “qualifying life event.” There are quite a few exceptions, and these are among the most important:

  • Losing your existing health coverage
  • Getting married or divorced
  • Having a baby
  • Changing jobs
  • Moving to an area where different plans are available
  • Turning 26 and getting dropped from your parent’s insurance plan

If you fall into one of these exceptions then you have a 30-day window to get signed up. You’ll simply want to visit healthcare.gov to find out your options, and if you qualify for a tax credit discount to purchase private insurance.

If you are one of the millions of people who now qualify for Medicaid coverage but haven’t gotten signed up, you can do so at any time. Just check with your state Medicaid office to see if you are eligible or start at healthcare.gov and get connected.

And don’t forget that if you want an overview of how the health law affects you, make sure to use Consumer Reports free, unbiased online tool. Just answer a few short, anonymous questions about your situation, and we will give you a personalized report on what you may be eligible for in terms of tax credits or Medicaid.

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