If you’ve only been paying half-attention to all the news about health insurance and the Obama Administration’s updates to the new insurance rules — you might be uncertain about the deadline for signing up.
In truth, there are two deadlines. Which one matters? It depends on your circumstances.
- Dec. 23rd — the first deadline — matters if you absolutely want or need insurance benefits starting on Jan. 1st. If you meet this deadline, you can visit a doctor or hospital the first week of January, with your insurance benefits (assuming you can find a doctor with open appointments). You might be someone who currently has an insurance plan that’s ending, and you don’t want to risk a break in coverage (imagine going one month without insurance, and that’s the month you fall off a ladder). Or, you might be someone who’s been uninsured for years and waiting for the opportunity to buy affordable insurance. If you sign-up (and pay your first-month’s fee) by Dec. 23, then you’ll have insurance you can use starting the first of January.
- Mar. 31st — the second deadline — matters if you want insurance before the federal tax penalty kicks in, and you want to get some benefits during the 2014 calendar year. Anyone who enrolls by Mar. 31 will avoid the tax penalty that comes with the federal mandate to have health insurance for 2014.
Other options? Yes