Obamacare Open Enrollment: What You Need To Know


President Obama likes the term “Obamacare” for the Affordable Care Act. | Source: ShutterStock

Much to Republicans’ chagrin, Obamacare open enrollment begins today. Here’s why the Affordable Care Act doesn’t need to be so scary!

If you’re already insured, whether through a plan from your job or one you purchased yourself, you don’t need to do anything. (Phew!) However, if you don’t have any health coverage, or if you want to change a plan you already have, healthcare.gov actually makes it pretty easy to navigate the marketplace and find, well, affordable care.

Important dates to know:

October 1, 2013 – Open enrollment starts
January 1, 2014 – Health coverage starts
March 31, 2014 – Open enrollment ends

Basically, you have until March 31, 2014 to buy insurance without a penalty. Penalties begin at $95 a year or one percent of your annual income (whichever is greater), and they go up over time–by 2016, if you don’t have coverage, you can pay more than $695 per person per year or 2.5 percent of your annual income. Not fun, so get on it! (You can do all of it from the cozy comfort of your own laptop–no need for pants!)

Also? Don’t worry about the government shutdown. The Affordable Care Act is already funded and won’t be affected by Congress’ inability to compromise and do their own jobs.

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