After six long months of enrollment for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Monday was the final day — sort of — to sign up for health insurance this year. Enrollment turned out better than many expected after HealthCare.gov stumbled badly out of the gate. It will take more time to assess the first-year performance, but here’s what we know now.
Q: Who’s actually signed up?
A: We don’t have the full data yet, but we have some basic numbers. The Obama administration said more than 6 million people and counting have signed up for private plans in the health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, since Oct. 1. More than 8.9 million have been determined eligible for Medicaid (that includes people re-enrolling and previously eligible), and more than 3 million young adults have stayed on their parents’ health plans during that time.
Q: Is the federal website working now?
A: The federal government’s website had been running pretty smoothly since early December, but it ran into trouble Monday, when it was knocked offline for several hours. Aside from this late-hour stumble, HealthCare.gov had held up through some heavy traffic in the final weeks of enrollment, including 8.7 million visits in just the past week.
Q: I don’t have insurance yet but want it. What do I do?
A: Monday was the last day to sign up for coverage nationally, but Oregonians have an extra month because of the state’s technology problems. See story, Page B3.
Q: If I don’t have insurance, will I get penalized?
A: You could, but not necessarily. The penalty per person this year is $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is higher. However, there are exemptions to the mandate for people who earn too little, would struggle to afford insurance or have other reasons. The administration has spelled out 14 hardship exemptions in all. The penalty won’t be assessed until you file your taxes next year, but the Obama administration isn’t expected to enforce the mandate all that strongly.
Q: What does this all mean for my insurance rates next year?
A: They’re going up just as they do every year. It’s not clear yet, though, by how much. Insurers will start filing 2015 rates in just a couple of months, and rate increases will depend on a number of factors. Insurers will be working with just a few months of claims from this year, so 2015 rates could also depend on how accurate insurers’ predictions this year turned out to be.