When is the deadline for signing up for Obamacare? - NerdWallet

When is the deadline for signing up for Obamacare?

When is the deadline for signing up for Obamacare?

The open enrollment period for Obamacare began on October 1st, albeit with a slew of issues – and now the most important question is, ‘when is the Obamacare deadline?’ While there are many ways to get around HealthCare.gov’s glitches, including state exchange websites and good old-fashioned paper and pencil, some Americans have decided to wait for the storm of glitches to subside. If you’re waiting to sign up, wondering when you should snail-mail in your paper application, or simply a self-proclaimed procrastinator, mark this date on your calendar.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The most important date you will need to know is March 31, 2014. This is a significant date for two reasons:

  1. It’s the last day of open enrollmentIf you want a new private insurance plan through the federal or state Marketplaces, you must enroll by March 31, 2014. Outside of this date, the only way you can enroll for insurance through Obamacare is during a Special Enrollment Period that lasts no longer than 60 days. You must qualify for Special Enrollment Periods by way of certain life events, such as getting married, having a baby, losing other health coverage, or having existing coverage that expires in 2014.
  2. It’s the deadline for avoiding the tax penaltyIf you don’t want to pay the individual mandate tax penalty in 2014, you will need to be able to show proof that you have acceptable coverage or have signed up for a health plan by this date.

If you miss this deadline, you will have to wait until the next open enrollment period from October 15, 2014 to December 7, 2014, for coverage beginning January 1, 2015. Note that open enrollment for all years after 2014 will begin on October 15 and end on December 7, for coverage beginning January 1st.

Medicaid & CHIP Deadlines

If you qualify or will qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, these deadlines do not necessarily apply. While you still need coverage by March 31, 2014 to avoid penalties, there is no fixed enrollment period for these programs; you can enroll at any time. Eligibility rules and requirements for Medicaid and CHIP vary by state and you can find out if you qualify for these and other subsidized programs at any time by visiting your state’s Medicaid, CHIP, or insurance exchange websites. Once you qualify coverage begins immediately.


While getting coverage through Obamacare’s faulty website might be a hassle, knowing the deadlines with confidence will assuage some the stress of getting health insurance. With the time that’s still left, you can take the time to learn more about picking a health plan, comparing plans, and making sure you know the basic terms on the Obamacare insurance page.

Calendar photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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