The health insurance deadline has passed. Now what?

There are still ways you may be able to be insured.

March 31, 2014 was the deadline for enrolling in a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. If you didn’t apply, does that mean you won’t be able to get health insurance now? Not necessarily. There are several exceptions to the deadline as well as another open enrollment period on the horizon.

First, if you were in the process of applying for health insurance in the Marketplace when the deadline passed, you now have until April 15, 2014 to complete your application. You won’t need to prove that you had started the process; you’ll be on the honor system. To complete the application you may either log back in to your own Marketplace application, or call the Marketplace call center, 1-800-318-2596 for assistance. You may also contact Enroll Michigan for assistance. At the Enroll Michigan site you can find a health insurance navigator in your area that will help you complete the process.

Second, if you experience a qualifying life event you will be able to purchase health insurance in the Marketplace outside of the open enrollment period. Examples of qualifying life events include moving to a new state, changes in family size (such as marriage, divorce or having a baby) and certain changes in income. These changes can be reported to the Marketplace either online or by phone.

Third, if you are American Indian and a member of a federally recognized tribe, you may purchase health insurance through the marketplace at any time. You may also opt to change your healthcare plan at any time during the year, not just during open enrollment. There are documentation rules for this exemption. More information about American Indians and the Affordable Care Act can be found at healthcare.gov.

If you are eligible for the Healthy Michigan Plan (the expansion of Medicaid in Michigan, which started April 1, 2014) you may enroll at any time throughout the year. Michigan children may be enrolled in MIChild at any time during the year as well. Children may be eligible for MIChild even if their parents are not eligible for Medicaid or the Healthy Michigan Plan.

There will be an open enrollment period every year for those who purchase their insurance through the Marketplace. In 2015 the open enrollment period is Nov. 15, 2014 through Feb. 15, 2015. During open enrollment, people who already have coverage may make changes and those who do not have coverage may purchase insurance.

Michigan State University Extension offers consumer education about making healthcare choices in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Through Smart Choice Health Insurance, participants will determine what they want from health care providers, compare healthcare plans, determine the cost of the plans and will apply what they learn to make the right decision in healthcare for them. For more information, visit www.aca.msue.msu.edu.

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