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ObamaCare, otherwise known as the Health Care Reform or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has brought about many changes to major medical health insurance, including an open enrollment period. The open enrollment period is important to understand because individuals and families can now be penalized if they miss the deadline or if they chose not to carry coverage in 2015. These changes, if misunderstood, could incur great cost for families across America.

Open Enrollment for 2015 health coverage closes on February 15th and whether you are planning to enroll through the Marketplace, an agent or broker, or directly from an insurance company, there are 5 things you need to know.

1.  Special Enrollment Period after Feb 15

Whether you were previously enrolled in major medical health insurance or not, you must enroll in coverage by February 15. If you miss the February 15 deadline, you will not be able to purchase health coverage for 2015 unless you qualify for a “Special Enrollment Period”. A Special Enrollment Period is given only if you meet specific qualifications, such as a major life change, and you must apply for this exception.

2.  The 2% Penalty

Starting in 2014, there is now a penalty for those who miss the deadline or chose not to carry health insurance coverage. The penalty for not carrying coverage in 2015 is determined by the higher of these two options – 2% of your income or $325 per adult plus $162.50 per child ($975 maximum). This penalty will be collected when you file your 2015 federal income tax.

3.  You need to re-enroll this year

For those who were previously enrolled in a 2014 health insurance plan, coverage ended December 31, 2014. If you chose to continue coverage and avoid the penalty, you must renew by February 15. Once re-enrolled, your insurance coverage should begin as soon as March 1.

4.  You can choose a different plan

If you carried coverage in 2014 and want to enroll in a different plan for 2015, you can do so up until February 15 with no penalty. There are many plans available and taking the time to reconsider these options is a good idea. Work with your agent to discuss the best plans available for your unique situation.

5.  No penalty for small business insurance

There is no limited enrollment period for small business insurance. Whether you purchase coverage through SHOP Marketplace, an agent or broker, or directly from an insurance company, you are eligible to enroll anytime of the year without penalty.

How to Find Health Insurance

With open enrollment coming to a close on February 15, it’s important to move forward with enrolling in a medical health insurance plan for 2015 as soon as possible. Because it can be difficult to understand Obama Care’s changes and make the best health insurance decisions for you, your family, or small business, make sure to talk to an agent or professional to get enough information be enrolling.

If you have questions or concerns regarding insurance of any type, don’t hesitate to ask! We would love to serve you by providing guidance to help you choose an insurance plan that best meets your needs.