When the federal health insurance marketplace closed on March 31, estimates showed that over 7.5 million people would have health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. But the numbers aren't quite final just yet – the 7.5 million estimate actually includes 400,000 people who attempted to apply before the deadline but couldn't complete the process.
If you meant to enroll in health insurance this year and didn't, you've missed the deadline to avoid paying the minimum essential coverage fee.
But if you made a good faith effort to enroll through the federal marketplace and were not able to, you may still be eligible to apply under a grace period that ends tomorrow.
Find out if you qualify after the jump.The grace period is the result of a surge in traffic on the last day to enroll, with 4.8 million people visiting HealthCare.gov and 2 million calling the call center – leaving many in a virtual health insurance traffic jam.
If you fall into this group, you may still be able to receive an exception to the deadline if you encountered any of the following when you tried to enroll:
- HealthCare.gov was down
- You received error screens or encountered other technical glitches on HealthCare.gov
- You were unable to reach the call center
- You were unable to get an appointment with an application helper on time
After the current grace period ends, only people who experience qualifying life events will be able to enroll through the federal marketplace before the next open enrollment period begins on November 15. Qualifying life events are things like marriage, having a baby, moving outside of your insurer's coverage area, or losing other health care coverage.
People eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) may apply any time – enrollment is always open and there are no deadlines. Medicaid enrollment has already increased by 3 million because of the ACA, and is still climbing. It will, of course, climb even more if more states – like Texas – choose to accept the enormous amount of federal resources available for the expansion. In states like Texas that did not accept the Medicaid expansion, Medicaid enrollment rose 1.6 percent since the federal marketplaces opened. In states that did expand Medicaid, it increased by 8.3 percent.
We will certainly see more enrollment in the remaining months of this year because of Medicaid. More immediately, we will see an uptick in enrollment in the federal marketplace for those who tried to enroll but couldn't.
If you think you might be eligible to apply, click here now.