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The Affordable Care Act Deadline Passed. What Now?

May 19, 2014 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

So it’s after March 31. Do you have health insurance yet? If not, you’re not alone. Millions of people signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act before the deadline, but millions more—including many of the coveted customers under 35—didn’t sign up.

Approximately seven million people have enrolled under the Affordable Care Act. However, not everyone who enrolled will pay their premium—so these numbers don’t translate directly into people covered. According to the most recently available statistics, the number of customers aged 18-35 who signed up under the Affordable Care Act was around 28%—a lot, but still short of the projected 40% needed to keep the program afloat. That said, it’s possible there could still be enough healthy people in the pool to keep it viable, and more young people could sign up under the extended deadline.

If you signed up and enrolled in a health plan, you’ll receive an insurance card from your new insurer. If you didn’t, however, here’s some information you might want to know about what happens next.

If you didn’t sign up by the deadline

If you missed the March 31 deadline, it’s possible that you may be able to get an extension. During the last day of open enrollment, the website crashed twice because it couldn’t handle the amount of traffic it got—and many people were unable to complete their applications.  If you explain that you were not able to sign up in time—you started the process online or left a message with the phone hotline—you may be granted an extension.

You can also apply for an extension based on certain serious life circumstances that interfered. Also, some states have extended their deadlines past the federal deadline. Do some research into the conditions in your state—it may be that you haven’t missed their deadline yet.

If you are not successful in getting an extension, however, you may be subject to a fee. The fee is $95 or 1% of your yearly income, whichever is more, on your 2014 tax return. This fee applies only to those who can afford it; those under a certain income threshold will not be charged the fee.

If you did sign up for insurance

If you signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, your coverage will start in May 2014 if you signed up by April 15. You should receive an insurance card in the mail.

If you want to sign up for insurance after the deadline

If you don’t get an extension, you may have to wait until the next enrollment period. This will occur from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015.

The prices for health plans next year will not be the same as the prices offered next year, however. Whether or not those prices will be dramatically higher is still not clear. At this point, insurers are taking a look at their health care costs over the first three months of enrollment—and this data will form the basis for rates set next year. States will need to review the rates, and new prices won’t be expected to come out until the fall—around the date enrollment opens again.

It is possible premiums could increase dramatically next year—although there are legal provisions in place that are meant to prevent or mitigate that.

In the end, the Affordable Care Act was big news for students. It has helped millions of people get covered—including students enrolled in traditional and accredited online schools. If you haven’t signed up for insurance yet, it is still possible for you to get an extension. If you aren’t eligible, try again next year—and hopefully you’ll be able to find a plan you can afford.



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