Here’s what you need to know about the Affordable Care Act’s second enrollment period, which starts Saturday.
Who can enroll?
You can sign up if you’re uninsured, buy your coverage outside the ACA marketplaces or are enrolled in a marketplace plan. People earning between 138 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,105 and $46,680, respectively, for an individual) can qualify for financial assistance to buy coverage. In the 23 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid to cover nearly all low-income adults, people with incomes above the federal poverty line ($11,670 for an individual) can also receive subsidies to buy insurance on ACA marketplaces. However, about 4 million low-income adults who don’t qualify for Medicaid in states that haven’t expanded coverage also don’t earn enough to qualify for subsidies to buy insurance.
How long do I have to enroll? The enrollment period is three months, from Nov. 15 to Feb. 15. But there is another deadline that consumers should be aware of: You must sign up by Dec. 15 if you want to switch into a new plan by Jan. 1 or want coverage that starts then.
How do I enroll? If you live in Virginia, you can sign up at HealthCare.gov or contact the federal call center at 800-318-2596. Maryland and the District of Columbia have their own enrollment Web sites and call centers. You can also find in-person enrollment help by searching localhelp.healthcare.gov.
What if I miss open enrollment?
You can qualify for a special enrollment period during the year if you experience certain life events, such as moving or losing your job. Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program is open year-round.
The penalty for not enrolling?
The penalty for not having coverage increases next year, to $325 or up to 2 percent of household income, whichever is higher. The individual mandate, however, does not apply to people who earn too little or qualify for an exemption because of certain hardships, such as a recent bankruptcy or an eviction.