Key dates for Marketplace enrollment

Use the timeline of the health care law to learn more about what's changing and find out how the law protects you.

There are 3 key dates you’ll want to mark on your calendar:

  • October 1, 2013: Marketplace open enrollment started
  • January 1, 2014: Health coverage can start
  • March 31, 2014: Open enrollment ends

Use the timeline of the health care law to learn more about what’s changing and find out how the law protects you.

You can apply for Medicaid and CHIP any time

The Marketplace will tell you whether you qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). If you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, your coverage can begin immediately. You can also apply for either of these programs right now.

Small employers can start SHOP coverage any time

Small employers generally may start offering health insurance coverage to their employees through the SHOP Marketplace at any time during the year.

Most people must have health coverage in 2014 or pay a fee. If you don’t have coverage in 2014, you’ll have to pay a penalty of $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or 1 percent of your income (whichever is higher). The fee increases every year. Some people may qualify for an exemption to this fee. If you enroll by March 31, 2014, you will not have to pay the fee for any month before your coverage began.

You are considered covered if you have Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, any job-based plan, any plan you bought yourself, COBRA, retiree coverage, TRICARE, VA health coverage or some other kinds of health coverage.

If you are eligible for job-based insurance, you can consider switching to a Marketplace plan. You will not qualify for lower costs based on your income unless the job-based insurance is unaffordable or doesn’t meet minimum requirements. You also may lose any contribution your employer makes to your premiums.

If you enroll in a private health insurance plan any time between October 1, 2013 and December 15, 2013 and make your first premium payment, your new health coverage starts January 1, 2014.

During the rest of open enrollment, if you enroll between the 1st and 15th day of the month and pay your premium, your coverage begins the first day of the next month. So if you enroll on February 10, 2014, your coverage begins March 1, 2014. If you enroll between the 16th and the last day of the month and pay your premium, your effective date of coverage will be the first day of the second following month. So if you enroll on February 16, 2014, your coverage starts on April 1, 2014.

Open enrollment for 2014 health insurance coverage closes on March 31, 2014. Be sure to visit the Marketplace and enroll in a plan before this date.

Enroll by March 31, 2014 and you will not have to make the individual shared responsibility payment

If you enroll in a health insurance plan through the Marketplace by March 31, 2014, you will not have to make the payment for any month before your coverage began.

For example, if you enroll in a Marketplace plan on March 31 your coverage begins on May 1. If you didn’t have coverage earlier in the year, you will not have to pay a penalty for any of the previous months of 2014.

After March 31, 2014, you can get new private health insurance for 2014 only through a special enrollment period if you have a qualifying life event like a job loss, birth or divorce.

For more answers to your questions about health insurance, go to healthcare.gov Q&A or the Health Insurance FAQs - eXtension. Also see previous news articles about health insurance choices on the Michigan State University Extension website. MSU Extension is providing education about health insurance basics this fall, including the why, what and how for making a smart decision. Find out about Smart Choice: Health Insurance workshops and factual information on the Affordable Care Act Roadmap.

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