The Department of Health and Human Services announced last week that individuals who purchase health insurance before March 31, 2014 will not face the tax penalty for being uninsured for three consecutive months. March 31, 2014 is the end of the open enrollment period. Originally it was assumed that insurance would have to be purchased by February 15th so that coverage could begin on April 1. Under that scenario anyone who purchased coverage after February 15 would be uninsured for three consecutive months (January, February and March) and would face penalties. If individuals want insurance to begin on January 1, 2014, they must purchase insurance by December 15, 2013.
The Administration continues to experience difficulties with the website (www.healthcare.gov) that individuals use to purchase health insurance in the states that chose to have the federal government run the marketplaces. The technical problems are frustrating people trying to purchase insurance and giving opponents of the law a new target to criticize. Key Congressional Committees are planning a series of hearings about the problems. The Administration has pledged to have the website fixed by the end of November. Individuals can use the toll free number 1-800-318-2596 to enroll or to find enrollment help in their community.