If you, your employees, or your clients plan on signing up for individual health insurance this year, you better act now. That’s because the 2015 open enrollment deadline is this Sunday, February 15th. But don’t be tempted to wait until February 15th to start your application. Start today.
What else do you need to know about signing up for coverage during these last few days of open enrollment? Read on.
Open Enrollment 2015 Deadline - February 15th
Annual open enrollment is the time during the year when anyone can sign up for guaranteed-issue health insurance coverage, either through the Marketplace in your state, or “off” the Marketplace through a broker or website.
You can only enroll in individual health insurance during the annual open enrollment period, or during a special enrollment period. The purpose of these enrollment periods is to control costs - it keeps people from waiting until they get sick to purchase health insurance.
Remember: If you don’t sign up for coverage by February 15th, and you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, you will have to wait until next fall to purchase coverage.
As tempting as it is to wait until February 15th to sign up for coverage, don’t procrastinate. Start today. It’s estimated that 10 million people will sign up for coverage through the Marketplaces this open enrollment period. And, a large rush will sign up on February 15th. If you wait until the last day, you could see a much slower website and more cumbersome application process.
If You Don’t Have Coverage, You’ll Pay a Fee
And remember, if you don’t have coverage this year, and you don’t qualify for an exemption, you will pay a fee next year come tax time.
In 2015, the fee increases to the greater of: $325 per person (max $975 per family) or 2% of your yearly income.
This fee is commonly called the “Individual Mandate” or “Individual Shared Responsibility Fee.” Read more about the individual fee, and exemptions, here.
Most Qualify for Premium Tax Credits
As you plan for purchasing health insurance coverage, remember that most people qualify for a discount through the premium tax credits.
The premium tax credits help many people buy more affordable individual or family health insurance coverage through the state Health Insurance Marketplaces. The premium tax credits are "advanced-payable" meaning they can be applied toward your premium when you purchase health insurance coverage.
Tip: The premium tax credits provide significant savings. In 2014, 87% of people who purchased a health plan through the Marketplace received a discount, paying only $82/month on average.
You are eligible for a premium tax credit if you meet certain income requirements and do not have access to affordable health insurance through an employer or government program such as Medicaid or Medicare. The tax credits are available to households earning up to $46,680 for an individual in 2014, or $95,400 for a family of four.
Special Enrollment Periods
As we mentioned above, you may have another chance to enroll in coverage during the year before the next open enrollment period. You can qualify for special enrollment period if you have a major life event such as getting married, having a baby, moving to a new state or county, having a significant income change, etc.
These types of life events qualify you to enroll in coverage. Your window is generally 60 days from the life event.
February 15th marks the end of open enrollment 2015. If you, your employees, or your clients plan on signing up for health insurance coverage this year, don’t procrastinate. Start the application today to avoid the rush on Sunday. And remember, if you don’t sign up now this may be your last chance for 2015.
What questions do you have about this year’s open enrollment period deadline? Leave a comment below and we’ll help answer them.