Updated: December 14, 2017
Open Enrollment 2018 is underway, which means the health insurance marketplace is open for business. Health insurance companies that offer plans through the marketplace can't charge higher premiums based on medical history or age. However, health insurance marketplace plans are only available during the Open Enrollment Period, or if you have a Special Enrollment Period.
Open Enrollment 2018 Deadline
In previous years, Open Enrollment ran for about 3 months, or 90 days. President Trump and his administration decided to cut Open Enrollment 2018 in half, and have it last only 45 days.
Open Enrollment 2018 runs from November 1, 2017, to December 15, 2017.
Open Enrollment 2018 Extensions
The Affordable Care Act gave states the option to create their own marketplace, or participate in the federally managed marketplace. While the federally managed marketplace's Open Enrollment has not been extended, here are the states opted to extend their own Open Enrollment Periods.
- California: November 1, 2017 - January 31, 2018
- Colorado: November 1, 2017 - January 12, 2018
- Connecticut: November 1, 2017 - December 22, 2017
- District of Columbia: November 1, 2017 - January 31, 2018
- Maryland: November 1, 2017 - December 22, 2017
- Massachusetts: November 1, 2017 - January 23, 2018
- Minnesota: November 1, 2017 - January 14, 2018
- New York: November 1, 2017 - January 31, 2018
- Rhode Island: November 1, 2017 - December - 31, 2017
- Washington: November 1, 2017 - January 15, 2018
While these states chose to extend their Open Enrollment Period, the federal marketplace still closes on December 15. Keep in mind there is still a possibility Open Enrollment will be extended for everyone, but it's not worth the risk. You should still try to enroll in a health plan before the deadline gets here. Remember, waiting until the last day of Open Enrollment may be a bad idea.
Special Enrollment Period Extension for some States
If you live in Florida, Georgia, or Texas, you may have an extra two weeks to enroll in a marketplace plan. The special enrollment period would apply to you if you live in any of the counties that were affected by the major Hurricanes this year which would be considered a qualifying life event. If you do qualify for a special enrollment period, your open enrollment will be extended until December 31, 2017. You can check if you qualify for an extension through the health insurance marketplace.
What to do if You Can't Afford Health Insurance in the Marketplace
While the health insurance marketplace does offer affordable health plans, not everyone will be able to find coverage that fits their budget. Since marketplace plans have set prices, you may have more luck buying health insurance outside the marketplace. Millions of Americans still manage to find plans that keep them protected from high medical costs through the private sector. First Quote Health makes it easier than ever to find affordable health insurance. All you have to do is enter your zip code and you can instantly compare quotes from the top carriers in your area!
What to do if You Miss Open Enrollment 2018
Open Enrollment isn't over yet, but it's a good idea to have a backup plan in case you miss the deadline. Government subsidies are only available for marketplace plans, however, you can still find affordable coverage outside the marketplace. As mentioned before, individual health insurance options are available year round. Even though you may not be eligible for a health insurance subsidy, you can still enroll. Check out these cheap health insurance options to save money on your healthcare coverage this year. However, make sure you are enrolling in qualifying health coverage so you can avoid the penalty.
The Penalty for Not Having Health Insurance
If you miss Open Enrollment 2018, or just simply couldn't find an affordable health insurance plan, you may be tempted to go without coverage. However, not having health insurance can end up being costlier than your monthly premiums. Without health insurance, you will be responsible for all the medical costs you incur. As you may already be aware, healthcare is not cheap here in the States. Not only will you be responsible for your high medical bills, but you may also be required to pay a penalty next tax season.
Obamacare's Individual Mandate
Perhaps the most controversial piece of legislation under Obamacare is the individual mandate. The individual mandate requires every American to have health insurance, or face a penalty. However, there are exemptions to this mandate that can end up saving you from paying thousands of dollars next tax season. If you are unsure whether or not you are exempt, or you would like to calculate what your penalty might be, use First Quote Health's free Obamacare penalty calculator.