Dr. Ernest Levister
Dr. Ernest Levister

Dr. Ernest LevisterOpen Enrollment for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also called the ACA or Obamacare 2014 coverage is looming. Sign up ends March 31, 2014. If you haven’t enrolled in coverage by then, you generally can’t enroll in 2014 Marketplace coverage.

Most Americans must have insurance by then or face fines. Need to buy your own insurance after open enrollment, either through the federal marketplace or privately? You’re out of luck until November, unless you get married, have a child, lose your insurance or qualify with some other life-changing event.

Enrollment for Covered California medical insurance plans began on October 1, 2013 and open enrollment continues until March 31, 2014. If you are interested in getting coverage now, start by getting California health insurance quotes, enroll online at Covered California.org or call 1-877-752-4737. The California Health Insurance Exchange is up and running and representatives are available to calculate your subsidy, help you choose an affordable plan that fits your needs and your budget, and let you know if you qualify for additional cost sharing (better coverage at no extra cost).

ACA or Obamacare — was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. It makes sweeping changes to health care, including requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, requiring insurance companies to pay for preventive care without cost to the patient and creating health insurance marketplaces, formerly called exchanges, through which people can buy insurance and, potentially, receive subsidies to discount the cost.
Although people can buy insurance either on or off the federal marketplace, only marketplace plans are eligible for subsidies from the federal government.

You can enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Program (CHIP) any time. There is no limited enrollment period for these programs.

If you own or operate a small business, you can start offering coverage to your employees at any time.