The deadline to sign up for Obamacare is rapidly approaching: Friday is the last day Americans can buy health insurance through the federal exchanges and, in doing so, qualify for Obamacare's health insurance subsidies. If you haven't yet signed up, you may be wondering how you can get an extension for Obamacare enrollment.
The answer is technically no, as the Trump administration hasn't extended Obamacare open enrollment. However, a handful of states have extended the enrollment period for Obamacare for their own residents, in some cases by quite a bit. To make matters even more complicated, some states have multiple enrollment deadlines, depending on when customers want their health coverage to start. The upshot of all this is that the actual deadline by which you must sign up for health insurance depends almost entirely in which state you live in.
Here are the states in which Obamacare enrollment has been extended, along with the corresponding deadlines in each states.
- California: Jan. 31, 2018
- Colorado: Jan. 12, 2018
- Connecticut: Dec. 22, 2017
- District of Columbia: Jan. 31, 2018
- Maryland: Dec. 22, 2017
- Massachusetts: Jan. 23, 2018
- Minnesota: Jan. 14, 2018
- New York: Jan. 31, 2018
- Rhode Island: Dec. 31, 2017
- Washington state: Jan. 15, 2018
One very important thing to keep in mind is that the deadline to sign up for insurance is distinct from the date at which that insurance kicks in. This is why some states have multiple deadlines; in those states, the date by which you sign up determines when your health insurance is effective.
For instance, Californians have the option of signing up for Obamacare any time before Jan. 31, but in order to have coverage by January 2018, they must enroll by Dec. 22. If someone living in California signs up for Obamacare after that, their insurance won't kick in until February — and as a result, they'll have to pay a tax penalty under the ACA's individual mandate provision. In Washington, residents must sign up by Dec. 15 in order to be covered by January 2018. Rhode Island has perhaps the most lenient deadline: As long as you sign up by Dec. 31, you'll be covered by the new year.
This site has a full list of state-by-state enrollment deadlines.
If you don't live in any of the aforementioned states, however, you'll have to sign up for Obamacare by Friday at midnight.
The reason for all of these differences has to do with the fact that, although Obamacare established a federal health care exchange, it also allowed states to build their own exchanges, and gave them substantial leeway to manage them. In general — and there are exceptions to this, most notably Kentucky — states that lean Democratic went on to create their own exchanges, while those that lean Republican did not. It's no coincidence that the list of states with Obamacare enrollment extensions are all blue states.
A lot of states did not set up their own exchanges, though, and as a result, their residents must buy insurance through the federal exchange, also known as Healthcare.gov. That exchange, as its name implies, is managed by the federal government, and when Donald Trump became president, his administration implemented new rules that drastically shortened the enrollment window for health insurance through Healthcare.gov.
Many people perceived Trump's move as an intentional sabotage of Obamacare, and it may well have been: In addition to shortening the Obamacare enrollment window, Trump also cut funding for outreach efforts intended to get people to sign up under the law. That said, it's also true that the enrollment window was scheduled to shrink in 2019 anyway, regardless of who was president.
If you'd like to sign up for Obamacare, just head over to HealthCare.gov, and even if you're in a state with its own exchange, you'll be directed to the right place.