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Open Enrollment For Health Insurance Is Almost Here

October 21, 2015



Open Enrollment:

November 1, 2015: Open Enrollment starts — first day you can enroll in a 2016 Marketplace plan

January 1, 2016: First date 2016 coverage can start

January 31, 2016: 2016 Open Enrollment ends

**If you don’t enroll in a 2016 plan by January 31, 2016, you can’t enroll in a health insurance plan for 2016 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

What is my penalty for not having insurance?

For those willing to live without health insurance, next year may be the tipping point at which your money is better spent on a policy than a penalty.  The expectation is the penalty will be almost double.


The penalty for not having health insurance in 2015 is $325 per adult and $162.50 per child under 18 (with a total family maximum of $975, regardless of family size), or 2% of your annual household income, whichever is higher.

Only the amount of income above the tax-filing threshold (about $10,150 for an individual) counts toward the percentage calculation of the penalty.


In 2016, the penalty jumps to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18 (with a family maximum of $2,085), or 2.5% of your annual household income above the tax-filing threshold, whichever is larger. (You pay the fee on the federal income tax return you file for the year you don’t have coverage.)


Initial Enrollment

During the 7-month period that starts 3 months before the month you turn 65, includes the month you turn 65, and ends 3 months after the month you turn 65. Your coverage will begin the first day of the month after you ask to join a plan. If you join during one of the 3 months before you turn 65, your coverage will begin the first day of the month you turn 65.

Open Enrollment

For those already in the system but would like to make changes:

October 15–December 7.

Special Enrollment

You can make changes to your Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug coverage when certain events happen in your life, like if you move or you lose other insurance coverage. These chances to make changes are called Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs). Rules about when you can make changes and the type of changes you can make are different for each SEP.

Typically, these SEPs give you a 60 day window to enroll.

 I know I’m repeating myself. It bears repeating. The American public is not used to these sorts of restrictions on purchasing, so I want to make sure what happened to me doesn’t happen to you. Don’t get caught without insurance and have to wait until next year’s enrollment!

As always, thanks for reading.

—E. A. Cooke

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