To get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), you must sign up by 11:59pm your time tomorrow night. That will net you the required healthcare coverage, beginning on January 1st. That also means you’ll be set for any New Years Eve mishaps–just make sure they occur after midnight.
This is the third year people will be able to buy private health insurance on the free government-operated exchanges. A lingering misconception is that Obamacare is an actual health insurance product sold on HealthCare.gov or the exchanges some states run. Think of an exchange like a mall. While someone may own and operate the larger structure (in this case, the building), every proprietor inside is individually cranking out specials to earn your business.
As of last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which administers HealthCare.gov and helps ensure the other state exchanges integrate properly, said around 3 million new people chose insurance plans for 2016 via an exchange. “Eight out of 10 people who enrolled in a health insurance plan qualified for financial help. In fact, most people can find monthly premiums for $75 or less. Submit your application now and see how much you could save in 2016,” a press release said.
As part of the historic 2010 healthcare access law, some plans are federally subsidized via tax credits. These credits can be applied to work like coupons, discounting the cost of your monthly premium in advance–just don’t do the tax math wrong or you’ll face an unpleasant bill correction in April.
Without a mitigating factor, most people who go without health insurance face a penalty at tax time. This year that penalty is $695 or 2.5% of taxable income per person, whichever is higher. January 31st, 2016 is the absolute deadline to obtain insurance or face the penalty.