Despite the significant bumps and potholes in the road to launching Healthcare.gov there are still thousands of people out there that have been able to successfully acquire health insurance from one of the healthcare exchanges for 2014.
However, there is a big difference in signing up for or electing coverage and actually having the coverage in place. The biggest requirements are filling out an application with the insurer, being accepted by the insurer (and then making you aware of your actual premium rather than an estimate), and then paying your premium.
If you had elected for health coverage through a health exchange that has a January 1st effective date you originally needed to have paid your policy’s first month premium by December 15th. Failure to pay by this date would have impacted your ability to have health insurance to start on January 1st.
However, that deadline has been pushed back again due to the problems surrounding enrollment online. The enrollment deadline is now December 23rd and the administration is asking insurers to allow individuals to pay for coverage up until December 31st. (They are also asking for individuals to be able to enroll after December 23rd, but there is no telling if insurance companies can accommodate this request.)
This can be confusing because there have been so many changes to the Affordable Care Act and the mandates that came with it this year. Plus, there is also a separate deadline to acquire coverage in order to avoid paying the tax penalty for not having health insurance in 2014. (That deadline is to enroll in coverage is February 15th. That coverage would be effective March 1st and have you insured by the March 31st deadline.)
Consider this a friendly reminder to communicate with your new health insurance company to pay for first month’s premium as soon as possible.