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Open enrollment ended on Dec. 15, 2017 in most places. Nine states that run their own state exchanges have extended open enrollment:
If you’re a resident of one of the above states, visit your state’s exchange website for more information and note that in many cases, enrolling after Dec. 15 does not guarantee coverage starting January 1.
As a result, you may experience a period of a few weeks being uninsured if your 2017 policy terminates on December 31. Incidentally, a short term health insurance product may be a good temporary measure. More on that below.
The 2018 health insurance open enrollment period is officially over for the rest of the country and has not been extended as in previous years.
You cannot get a minimum essential coverage (aka “Obamacare” or “major medical”) after open enrollment ends unless one of the following criteria applies to you:
And you cannot avoid the tax penalty unless you qualify for an exemption from the individual mandate.
It may be time to accept that you’ll be facing a tax penalty, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get medical insurance - it just won’t be an Obamacare compliant plan. So what should you do?
Just because you can’t obtain major medical coverage doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive and protect your finances and health in the coming year.
Step 1 is to get an estimate of how much your penalty will be. The 2018 values haven’t been released as of the time of this writing, but the 2017 penalty is calculated as follows:
Your penalty amount will be whichever of those two calculations is higher and is paid when you file your federal tax return for that year.
Do you have your penalty amount? Great.
Step 2 is to obtain a quote for a Hospital Indemnity plan.
Hospital indemnity is a “fixed indemnity” alternative medical insurance offering. While it is not minimum essential coverage, a hospital indemnity plan pays fixed benefit amounts for covered office visits, preventive care, and first-dollar benefits for qualifying illnesses and injuries.
If you live in a state that has extended their open enrollment period, you may still be facing a period of time being uninsured if you enroll after December 15.
And while this won’t be a problem where the law is concerned (you can go a single period up to 3 months being uninsured and not be penalized), you still may want temporary coverage for that period of time between when your 2017 policy terminates and your 2018 policy begins.
That’s where an alternative option like short term medical comes in.
Short term health plans:
Even though short term medical isn’t as comprehensive as major medical, the minimum coverage it provides may be more than enough for critical illnesses, accidents, or injuries.
But the only way to find out is to get a short term health quote. It only takes a few minutes.
1 Policygenius. “Your state-by-state guide to the 2018 health insurance open enrollment period.” Last reviewed December 20, 2017. https://www.policygenius.com/blog/health-insurance-open-enrollment-state-guide/
2 “Individual Mandate Penalty You Pay If You Don’t Have Health Insurance Coverage.” HealthCare.gov, HealthCare.gov, https://www.healthcare.gov/fees/fee-for-not-being-covered/.