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When do you need to have health insurance by?

“To sum it up…”

  • January 31, 2017 is the last day to enroll or change your plan for any coverage in the 2017 year, unless you qualify for the special enrollment period
  • December 15, 2016 is the last day to enroll in a healthcare plan or change it through the healthcare marketplace if you want coverage for January 1, 2017
  • Open enrollment starts on November 1, 2016
  • You will owe a fee if you do not enroll by January 31, 2017

The Health Care Marketplace opened again for the 2017 year on November 1, 2016 given citizens the opportunity to enroll or change their health plans. If you wanted your coverage to start directly on January 1, 2017, it is necessary to enroll by December 15, 2017. January 1, 2017 is the earliest date that your coverage can start if you enroll on time.

However, it is not absolutely necessary to enroll by that date, as you will not be charged the penalty fee for not having health insurance as long as you enroll in a plan by January 31, 2017. There are some exceptions to this date for those who qualify for the special enrollment period.

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Special Enrollment Period

If you have had major changes or events occur in your life, you may qualify for the special enrollment period after January 31, 2017.

Some of these life events include losing your health insurance, changes in your residence, changes in your household size, getting released from incarceration, being newly recognized as a citizen or legal resident, and joining or leaving the Americorps.

Losing your Current Insurance

If you or anyone in your household who was covering you lost your health insurance in the past 60 days or plan to lose it in the next 60 days, you may qualify for a special enrollment period.

This can include health coverage from your employer, COBRA insurance, losing insurance you purchased for yourself, losing your eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, or CHIP, and losing coverage through a family member.

Changes in Household Size


Changes in household size in the past 60 days can also qualify you for a special enrollment period. If you have had a baby, adopted, or fostered a child you can have the coverage start the day of the event, even if you enroll up to 60 days later.

If you were recently married, you can pick a plan by the last day of the month and your coverage can start the first day of the next month.

If you got divorced or legally separated and lost your coverage, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period. However, if you got divorced or separated and did not lose your insurance, you will not be eligible. If someone on your plan passed away making you ineligible for your plan, you may get a special enrollment period as well.

Address Change

A change in residence includes moving to a new zip code, moving to the United States from a foreign country, a student moving to the area where they will be attending school, moving to a shelter or transitional housing, and a seasonal worker moving to where they will be temporarily working.

What happens if I qualify?


If you qualify for any of these special enrollment plans, you will typically have 60 days after the event occurs to enroll in the plan. If the plan is based on your job, you will have a special period with a minimum of at least 30 days to enroll.

However, you can enroll in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Plan at any time of the year. A special enrollment period is not necessary for these insurance plans.

Applying for a Special Enrollment Period

You can apply or a special enrollment period if you think you qualify on the healthcare exchange website. Additionally, you can contact the Marketplace call center and a representative will verify whether you are eligible and assist you with enrollment.

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  1. https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/dates-and-deadlines/
  2. https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage-outside-open-enrollment/special-enrollment-period/
  3. https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/special-enrollment-period/