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What if I didn’t enroll by the January 31st deadline?

For most people, the last day to enroll in a health plan for 2016 was January 31, 2016. But, in some cases, you may still be able to get coverage this year.

If you have a certain major life change, you may qualify for a special one-time opportunity to enroll after the deadline. These changes include losing your health coverage, getting married, having or adopting a baby, moving to a new place, having a change in your income, or gaining citizenship. Learn more about all the life changes here and remember that you have to enroll no later than 60 days after the major change happens. We also encourage you to take advantage of free help (either in-person or by phone) from a trained LGBTQ-friendly assister to help you understand your options.

In addition, you may qualify for free or low-cost coverage depending on your income and your state. You can get this type of coverage – through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program – at any time during the year. Unlike the Marketplace, there’s no deadline and you can apply at any time. You can get more information here or can get free help from a local expert.

Is there a penalty for not having insurance?

It’s the law to have health insurance. If you choose to go without coverage, you will have to pay a penalty of either 2.5 percent of your income or $695, whichever is greater.

For many people, it is cheaper to enroll in health insurance—and have the peace of mind that comes from being covered—than it is to pay the penalty. This is because you may be eligible for financial help to make your coverage more affordable. The amount of financial help depends on your income. You may qualify for financial help if your household income is between approximately $11,700 and $47,000. In fact, over 8 out of 10 people who enroll through qualify for financial help, and most people find plans available for $75 or less per month.

You may be exempt from the penalty under certain circumstances. For example, you won’t have to pay a penalty if you’re uninsured for less than 3 months in a year or if you don’t file a tax return because your income is too low. If you think you might qualify, you can obtain a “certificate of exemption” from the Marketplace.

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