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Still need health insurance for 2021?  Well, you’re in luck.  The Special Enrollment Period has been extended to August 15th due to COVID-19.  This is your chance to enroll in a new plan or make changes to a plan you already have.  Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, more people are eligible for a premium tax credit, which will lower your monthly premiums.  Your credit amount is based on your 2021 estimated income.  Even if you weren’t eligible for financial assistance in the past, you may qualify now.  Keep in mind, if you change plans or add a new family member, the out-of-pocket costs you already paid towards your 2021 plan mostly likely won’t count towards your new deductible.

How to get health coverage

To get health coverage through a Marketplace plan, you can apply and enroll at HealthCare.gov.  Depending on where you live, your state may have its own special website for you to use.  Before you begin, you’ll be able compare plans and the estimated costs based on your income.

What happens if I miss the open enrollment period?

If you miss the deadline to enroll, you may have to go without health coverage until the next open enrollment period.  That’s not until November 1st and coverage won’t begin until January 2022.  The only way to get coverage outside of the open enrollment period is to have a qualifying life event.  If you move, have a baby, lose your job or things of that nature, you’ll be eligible for a special enrollment period to get coverage.

Although there’s no federal penalty for being uninsured, it’s not a smart idea.  One major sickness or accident can leave you with a pile of debt.  According to HealthCare.gov, the average cost of a 3-day hospitalization is approximately $30,000.  Most people don’t even have enough money saved to cover a $1,000 emergency so imagine the kind of damage that hospital bill will do to your finances.