Happy April, freelancers! The deadline for 2014 coverage through the health exchange was March 31, which means…well, if you didn’t sign up, it means you missed it.
But fear not. Even though this year’s open enrollment period is over, you may still be able to get coverage. Here are your options:
Special Enrollment Period
A special enrollment period allows you to sign up for a qualified health plan -- through your state's health plan marketplace or directly through an insurer -- outside of the regular open enrollment period. You’re eligible for a special enrollment period if:
- You have a qualifying life event such as marriage, birth or adoption of a child, or loss of existing coverage. Here’s a list of qualifying life events that would make you eligible for a special enrollment period.
- A complex situation made it difficult for you to apply for coverage. Remember how HealthCare.gov was all wonky when it launched? Technical problems like that are being recognized as a “complex situation,” as are exceptional circumstances like health problems or natural disasters.
If you think you qualify for a special enrollment period, you can contact the Marketplace Call Center at 800.318.2596 or visit HealthCare.gov. If you live in New York and qualify for a special enrollment period, you can also apply for coverage with Freelancers Insurance Company.
Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program
Medicaid and CHIP are nationwide programs that provide coverage to people with low incomes or disabilities. These programs offer immediate enrollment and there is no open enrollment period, meaning you can apply anytime.
Are these options not for you? Let’s talk about that fee.
If you don’t qualify for special enrollment, then you probably can’t get Marketplace coverage until the next open enrollment period. As of now, open enrollment for 2015 coverage is scheduled for November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2015.
Without health coverage, you’ll have to pay a fee (1% of your income or $95 per adult, whichever is higher) or get a fee exemption. There are several scenarios that may qualify you for a fee exemption, including if you’re uninsured for less than three months of the year or if your income is too low. HealthCare.gov has a detailed list of fee exemptions, as well as instructions on how to apply for an exemption.
Do you have any more health coverage questions? We’re here to help!