The health insurance exchange opened on October 1st, giving people access to insurance like never before. But, the problems with the government’s website has caused no end of troubles for those trying to create an account and browse the available policies. Now the White House has extended the open enrollment period from December 31, 2013 to March 31, 3014. If you were stressing out about avoiding the penalty for not having health insurance, you can relax and sign up for coverage later instead of sooner.
The extension of the open enrollment period will not incur a tax penalty for not being covered for part of the year. Prior to the change, people had to be enrolled by February 15 in order to have coverage that started on March 1. Applications for health insurance bought on the exchange can take up for 15 days for processing before becoming effective. Now if someone signs up on March 31, they automatically get a hardship exemption that prevents the penalty from being assessed, and no need to fill out any paperwork.