December 24 is the last day to sign up for health insurance at HealthCare.gov and still be assured of having coverage starting Jan. 1.
Melissa Masterson with Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis says the pace of people seeking information about the health care exchange has picked up since the trouble-plagued website finally began functioning three weeks ago.
She estimates Eskenazi has assisted about 2,000 people since then. Eskenazi is one of four health care navigators in Indiana that received federal grants to help people assess their coverage options.
Applicants can still sign up for coverage after the deadline, but their coverage won’t kick in until Feb. 1. The Department of Health and Human Services has asked insurers to allow retroactive coverage for people who sign up as late as Jan. 10.
Those who don’t have insurance by the end of March will have to wait till October to enroll, unless there’s a “qualifying life event” such as a birth, death, marriage or divorce.
“Open enrollment is extended until March 31, and that would be to avoid the penalty that’s been mandated by the government,” Masterson says.
Consumers who file tax returns and don’t obtain coverage will owe a tax for not complying with the law.