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When Is It Too Late to Sign Up for Obamacare?

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 15, 2019 12:25 PM

For those that don't already have health insurance through their employer, the Affordable Care Act provides a marketplace for insurance plans. Known more broadly as Obamacare, the ACA also requires everyone to have some health insurance plan while guaranteeing coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.

So, when do you need to enroll? And when is it too late to get health insurance coverage for 2019 under Obamacare?

Open Obamacare Enrollment

The open enrollment period for coverage that began on January 1st of this year was November 1 through December 15 of 2018. So open enrollment in Obamacare, sadly, is already over. But that doesn't mean you're out of luck. Some states have extended their enrollment deadlines, and there may be other options for qualifying for coverage.

Special Enrollment Status

There is a Special Enrollment Period for people who experience a "qualifying life event," like the following:

  • Health Coverage Changes: If you or a dependent lose existing health coverage that met government standards;
  • Family Changes: If you get married, divorced, have or adopt a child, or have a death in the family;
  • Citizenship Changes: If you become a U.S. citizen or national;
  • Subsidy Eligibility Changes: If you become eligible or lose eligibility for subsidies (advance payments of the premium tax credit or cost-sharing reductions); or
  • Coverage Area Changes: If you permanently move to a new state, county, or ZIP code.

Even though the open enrollment period is over, you may be to enroll now or change a health insurance plan if you have a life event that qualifies you for a special enrollment period.

Medicaid or CHIP Coverage

Additionally, if you already qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), you can apply for health insurance through the ACA marketplace anytime. For help determining whether state or local laws have extended the Open Enrollment Period where you live, or whether you qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or the Special Enrollment Period, contact a local healthcare attorney.

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