Delaware residents have until midnight tonight to at least start the enrollment process for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Delawareans who start but are unable to complete the process by midnight will have until mid-April to finish enrollments for health coverage this year, according to federal recommendations issued last week.
For example, individuals found ineligible for Medicaid or CHIP, but whose applications were never transferred to the health insurance marketplace due to a wide variety of computer glitches, would qualify for a special enrollment period. However, those individuals must attest that they tried to enroll either online or over the phone by March 31.
“It’s like being in line to vote when the polls close and still being allowed to vote,” said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services.
She urged residents to enroll as soon as possible, either directly through the federal website, HealthCare.gov, or with help available through the state’s marketplace information website, ChooseHealthDE.com.
Enrollment heading ‘in a positive direction’
At the beginning of this month, more than 9,000 Delawareans had enrolled for heath coverage through the marketplace, up from nearly 7,000 at the end of February.
“The numbers continue to head in a positive direction, which is very good to see,” Landgraf said.
The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare, requires everyone who can afford to buy insurance to get covered or face a possible tax penalty. The penalty amounts to $95 per person or 1 percent of annual household income, whichever is higher. In addition, the fine increases every year.
For 2015, it’s the higher of 2 percent annual income or $325 per person. For 2016, it’s 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person.
Life-changing events, like moving to another state or having a baby; qualify individuals to sign up for health care during a special enrollment period beyond the March 31 deadline. Residents can enroll anytime during the year for coverage through Medicaid or CHIP — there is no limited enrollment period for these programs.
The next open enrollment period starts on November 15, 2014, for health insurance coverage that begins January 1, 2015.