Open enrollment ended on Dec. 15, 2017 in most places. Nine states that run their own state exchanges have extended open enrollment1:
- California: Jan. 31, 2018 – Covered California – the CA ACA state exchange
- Colorado: Jan. 12, 2018 – Connect for Health – the CO ACA state exchange
- DC: Jan. 31, 2018 – Health Link – the DC ACA exchange
- Massachusetts: Jan. 23, 2018 – Health Connector – the MA ACA state exchange
- Minnesota: Jan. 14, 2018 – MNSure – the MN ACA state exchange
- New York: Jan. 31, 2018 – NY State of Health – the NY ACA state exchange
- Rhode Island: Dec. 31, 2017 – HealthSource RI – the RI ACA state exchange
- Washington: Jan. 15, 2018 – Health Benefit Exchange – the WA ACA state exchange
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:
- You qualify for a special enrollment period (e.g., you’ll be changing jobs soon, moving, etc.) or
- You have access to another minimum essential coverage (MEC) plan such as Medicaid or Medicare
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?
Pay the penalty + protect your out-of-pocket risk
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:
- 2.5% of household income up to a maximum value of the total yearly premium for the national average price of a bronze plan sold through the ACA marketplace OR
- $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 years old that do not have insurance coverage up to a maximum of $2,0852
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.
What is hospital indemnity coverage
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.
- $0 deductible plans
- Lump-sum benefits paid directly to you
- Choose any doctor or hospital, and receive additional savings via access to network providers
- No open enrollment period restrictions; sign up year-round
- Guaranteed renewable
What to do if your Obamacare plan begins after January 1
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:
- Can be enrolled in anytime and are not subject to the open enrollment period
- Begin any day of the month—as early as the day after you apply and enroll
- Include benefits to help pay for unexpected medical care
- Can be tailored to your needs in terms of deductible, coinsurance and other plan options
- Typically have lower monthly premiums than major medical insurance plans
- Are not guaranteed issue and do not cover pre-existing conditions
- Does not include essential health benefits like preventive care
- May be quickly and easily purchased online through websites such as healthedeals.com
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.
Need Medical Coverage for 90 Days or Less? Get a Short Term Medical Quote Now.
Need Medical Coverage for More Than 90 Days? Get a Hospital Plan Quote Now.
Want to Speak to an Insurance Advisor? Locate an Agent Near You.