Individual Health Insurance Enrollment Ends Today - How It Affects You

March 31st (today) marks the end of “open enrollment” in the new Health Insurance Exchanges for 2014. For most Americans, this signals the final day to create an account, compare plans, and choose health insurance for 2014.


Amid the many updates, delays, and conflicting media coverage, business owners and their employees may not know how they are affected. Depending on your current insurance situation, here are actions you may need to take:


For Individuals Not Covered Through Work:

  • If you are uninsured, today is the last day to find a plan for 2014 and avoid paying a penalty for not having health insurance. (The penalty is $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is higher, and is paid on your 2014 taxes in April 2015). You can reach your Health Insurance Marketplace through www.healthcare.gov.
  • If you had technical problems signing up, either through the federal exchange at healthcare.gov or certain state exchanges (at this point Maryland, Minnesota, and Nevada), the enrollment period has been extended until mid-April. To qualify for this extension, you must have created an account on the exchange (including your email address) by midnight tonight.
  • If your insurance was cancelled and will end at some point in 2014, you will be able to sign up during a “special enrollment period” --right before your plan ends. Alternatively, your insurance carrier may choose to extend your plan as is. Check with your current carrier to find out.
  • If you are self-employed, you are considered an individual, not a small business. Your enrollment period ends today (see above), just like everyone else.


For Small Business Owners

  • If you are a business owner and planned to offer insurance through your business to your employees, you can enroll throughout the year in the SHOP (Small Business) Marketplace. Generally, you can enroll up to the 15th of any month for coverage beginning the 1st of the next month. The Small Business Marketplace is limited to business with up to 50 employees. Online applications will not be available until the fall, though you can apply for coverage through a paper application or broker, both accessible through healthcare.gov.   
  • If you already provide health insurance to your employees(under 25 employees), make sure you consider the Small Business Health Tax Credit which can cover up to 50% of your costs. The credit is available for 2013 (the taxes being filed in April this year). Use the IRS Taxpayer Advocate calculator to determine if you qualify and for how much.

As a reminder, there are no penalties for any employer until 2015, no matter how many employees you have.

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