KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The deadline is still next Monday at midnight for uninsured Americans to sign up for health coverage. There have always been some exceptions, and this week, the Obama Administration added more. That's adding to confusion.
Brenda Combs and her husband have come to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield table at the Kansas City Health Department with questions. Combs has insurance through her job, but she wants to retire soon and get coverage through http://www.healthcare.gov.
Combs wants to know if she has any leeway.
"Or do I need to be signed up by the 31st?" she asked.
Combs got the answer she'd hoped for from the sales rep.
"He says I'll be fine going past the 31st. I can still get the plan," said Combs.
Combs can wait until she retires. That's because retirement is considered a qualifying life event. Other examples include losing your job, getting married or divorced. But for uninsured people who qualify for the marketplace and want to avoid a tax penalty for 2014?
"March 31st is the deadline to sign up for health coverage that will become effective on May 1 of this year, and that is the deadline and that has not changed," said Wayne Powell of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.
But the insurance executive knows the Obama Administration has added more exceptions. If you're in the process of enrolling by midnight on the 31st, but haven't finished, you have some leeway. You'll need to check the blue box on healthcare.gov. Then you must finish the online application by April 15 for coverage starting May 1. You'll also need to pay the first premium before May 1.
"If you sign up timely, but haven't paid your premium timely, then you will not have health insurance effective May 1," said Powell.
Your next opportunity to enroll won't be until November 15th.
Combs learned that she'll be able to get coverage similar to what she has now at about half the cost. She advises people to get some one-on-one help. For resources, click here.