Understanding the Affordable Care Act’s Enrollment Periods

Affordable Care ActAs part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, Americans have an opportunity to enroll in a healthcare policy during an Open Enrollment Period each year. Before we get into the details of this enrollment period, it’s important to understand the purpose of the ACA. It is a law enacted in 2010 that was designed to make affordable health insurance more accessible to all Americans. 

These plans are often made affordable through consumers receiving a subsidy in the form of a federal tax credit to discount the price of a private insurance plan. In addition to this, the law also expanded the Medicaid program and changed the rules insurance companies must follow.

Many people who do not maintain a health insurance policy throughout the year may pay a tax penalty. To avoid this penalty, you must enroll for a plan and maintain coverage throughout the year.

Each year, there is a 3-month Open Enrollment Period, generally from November through January, when anyone can sign up.

What happens if I miss the ACA’s Open Enrollment Period?

That is an excellent question. If you miss the ACA’s Open Enrollment Period, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This is a time outside of the Open Enrollment Period during which you and your family may sign up for healthcare coverage. There are common criteria that you must meet in order to be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. You must have experienced one of these criteria, which are referred to as a Qualifying Life Event. Here are some of the most common QLE’s:

  1. Involuntary loss of health coverage, usually through your job
  2. Marriage
  3. Birth of a child
  4. Moving to a new area of residency

The Affordable Care Act allows you 60 days once the event happens to enroll in a comprehensive health insurance policy.

If you still have questions about the Special Enrollment Period, or any other healthcare-related concerns, we encourage you to contact the licensed specialists at Osborne Insurance Services. We work with some of the leading insurance providers in North Carolina to offer competitive plans and rates that meet all ACA requirements for minimum coverage.

You can contact us today at (919) 845-9555.