[NATL Feature Page]Affordable Care Act

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Affordable Care Act Enrollment Begins

After the Deadline: What's Next for Obamacare

Monday's deadline to sign up for health insurance has passed. What happens now?

By Lavya Yalamanchi
|  Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014  |  Updated 7:31 AM EDT
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Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An Affordable Care Act application and enrollment help sign stood outside a Westside Family Healthcare center in Bear, Delaware, U.S., on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

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March 31 was the day.

The last day to enroll in a health insurance plan on the federal and state Obamacare exchanges has officially past.

If you procrastinated, or if you're just wondering what happens next, here's what you need to know.

What if you didn't sign up by the deadline?

If you live in a state that uses the federal exchange and you haven't signed up by Monday night, not all is lost. An honor-system deadline extension may be available.

If you need extra time, explain that you tried to enroll during the open enrollment period but were not able to finish the process in time. (Initiating the online process before midnight or leaving your number on the phone hotline, for instance, would fulfill this requirement.) 

You can also request an extension based on qualifying life events. And some state-run exchanges have also extended the deadline further and have their own sets of rules.

But I didn't even try to sign up. What will happen to me?

If you can't say you tried to get a plan in time and didn't get health insurance by the deadline, you will have to pay a fee of $95 or 1 percent of your annual income — whichever is greater — on next year’s tax return.

I signed up for insurance. When will I be covered?

You must apply by April 15 in order to receive coverage starting in May. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the consumers who are "in line" on the exchanges will still be enrolled, though, provided they pay their first month's premium in time.

What if I can't afford insurance at all?

The penalty for not buying health insurance only applies to people who can afford insurance but don't get it. If you didn't sign up by the deadline because you can't afford health insurance, you won't be charged the fee.

If that's the case, you should call (800) 318-2596 to explore your Medicaid options. If you live in a state that is not expanding Medicaid, you will not have to pay the fee — but you probably won't receive any insurance.

What happens next year?

If you didn't sign up for an insurance plan this year, the enrollment period for next year will start Nov. 15 and continue through Feb. 15, 2015.

For complete coverage of the Affordable Care Act implementation as well as tools, calculators, state-by-state information and a detailed FAQ, visit our ACA section.

 

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