How To Sign Up For Obamacare Now That It's Here To Stay
In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled to allow health care subsidies to continue in all 50 states Thursday, saving the controversial Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) from what would surely be a slow death. It was a huge win for the Obama administration, but needless to say, the GOP was furious. (After all, the Republican party's been fighting for the bill's dismantling ever since it was first created.) But now that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is here to stay, and you don't have to worry about your tax credits being taken away, it's a great time to sign up for health coverage if you're uninsured. So, how do you sign up for Obamacare? There are a few different routes you can take.
This year's open enrollment for Obamacare ended February 15, but don't panic — it's not too late to get coverage. The first option is to see if you qualify for a special enrollment period. If you've had a change in your family status recently, such as getting married, giving birth, or adopting a child, you may still be able to enroll; the law allows 60 days after a life event to apply for a new plan or alter your existing one. To find out if you're eligible, check the Obamacare website or call the healthcare.gov hotline.
Haven't had a major life event that would qualify you for special enrollment? Fear not — you can still get coverage by signing up for health plans in your state. These private plans exist outside the health insurance marketplace and are mostly short-term options since many insurers don't offer ACA compliant plans outside of the open enrollment period. A short-term plan will cover your medical needs until you can apply for Obamacare coverage, but you may still have to pay the fee for not having health insurance. Private plans won't necessarily cost more than ACA coverage, since prices are strictly regulated, but the cost assistance available for low- and middle-income people through Obamacare isn't provided on the private market.
Your last option? Wait until open enrollment begins again on November 1. Once the marketplace reopens, you'll be able to get the minimal coverage you need to avoid a tax penalty for not having insurance and have access to subsidized plans based on your income. Plus, if you enrolled during a special enrollment period or got a short-term plan, you can change your plan then as well. And if you qualify for Medicaid, that operates on the same open enrollment period, too, so mark your calendar for November 1!
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