Last year was the first year we had a "Marketplace" where individuals could go shop for health insurance plans and buy a plan Guaranteed! The healthcare law (ACA - Affordable Care Act, affectionately known by some as Obamacare) allowed anyone to buy insurance without worry of being rejected by insurance companies or rated up for medical conditions. This is one of the very GOOD things about this law. The not so good part is if you don't buy a plan for 2014 (if you go 'uninsured for more than 90 days) you will face a tax penalty when you file your taxes in the spring.
Last year the Marketplace was open from October 1, 2013 - March 31, 2014, and later extended to April 15, 2014. So individual had a solid 6 months to sign up, which was needed since the "marketplace" website kept crashing and no one could get through to apply. This year Open Enrollment is delayed. (Side Note: the law stated that annual open enrollment would coincide with Medicare Open Enrollment and be from 10/15 - 12/7 each year. But the government wisely moved the date so everything wasn't happening at once. Remember, about 30 states have government run marketplace, and CMS - Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services - are overseeing many aspects of the under 65 marketplace, including providing the annual certification for agents.) Enrollment for 2014 begins November 15, 2014 and runs through February 15, 2015. If you don't buy a plan by 2/15/15, you will not be allowed to sign up later in the year, unless of course you have a "special enrollment" option due to a qualifying event....getting married, having a baby, losing group coverage, etc.
The Kaiser Foundation recently surveyed individuals, and only 11% were AWARE of the marketplace being open. Even the researched was surprised by the results. Read more: NYT. next open enrollment. Mollyann Brodie, who conducted the survey for the Kaiser Family Foundation, was surprised awareness was so low, especially given all the news coverage of the Affordable Care Act. “Having just no idea it’s coming — that’s pretty surprising at this point,” she said. “You’d think there’s just been so much attention and effort put out there.”
It's possible that many more uninsureds will be VERY aware of the annual open enrollment when they learn the tax penalty they will have to pay for NOT having insurance. Unfortunately, the realization that they owe a tax penalty will most likely come AFTER the Open Enrollment ends on 2/15/15 and the marketplace closes. I guess we will have to wait until next year to find out how this might impact open enrollment in Fall of 2015!