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TheStreet Open House

What to Do If You Missed the Obamacare Deadline

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The White House says there were 7 million individual health care sign-ups as of a March 31 deadline, while the Los Angeles Times, citing an upcoming Rand study, notes that only one-third of ACA health care signups were of uninsured people. (Rand says 9 million Americans have signed up for health care plans directly from insurers, but the vast majority of those individuals were insured.)

Then there's the issue of paid signups: The White House hasn't released a breakdown saying how many people signed up for a health care plan but have not paid. Nor do we know how many signups came from the all-important younger Americans, who are needed to balance out older enrollees using expensive health care services in greater volume.

But what if you missed the signup date, don't have health care and want it?

eHealth, a Mountain View, Calif., private online health insurance exchange, has a guide for people in that position.

"Unfortunately, there are still Americans without health insurance today," says Gary Matalucci, eHealth vice president of customer care. "Based on data collected from our call center and certain media reports, some of these people didn't realize the law applied to them. Others were unaware of the opportunities for coverage that were available or misunderstood the deadline."

All is not lost, Matalucci says.

"Some of these consumers may still have coverage options other than major medical insurance," he adds.

Officially, the federal government has said there will be no deadline extension. But if you started your application before March 31 on HealthCare.gov, the federal government's health care insurance exchange market, you may have some leeway. "Some consumers who started applications prior to the end of open enrollment will be granted more time to complete them if they were unable to finish due to certain system errors on the federal marketplace," eHealth says.

In addition, private health insurance companies "may create additional open enrollment periods for their customers, or even additional special enrollment periods for additional qualifying life events," eHealth says. The firm advises reaching out to your state insurance office or calling a licensed insurance agent for information.

Uncle Sam will waive its tax penalty of $95 or 1% of your annual income, whichever figure is larger, if you don't have health care coverage -- if you keep your time without insurance to less than three consecutive months during the year, eHealth says.

If you have a pre-existing condition, you may be out of luck. Technically, insurers can't decline coverage for pre-existing health conditions, but under the terms of the ACA "they are not obliged to sell health insurance to consumers who have not experienced a qualifying life event or some other exceptional circumstance (such as a system error) defined by the law," eHealth says.

Certain specific health insurance policies, such as short-term health care plans, accident insurance, critical illness coverage and dental insurance, are still available to health insurance consumers, but they will not meet the coverage standards of the ACA and are not subject to the "pre-existing conditions" rule under the new heath care law.

The next open enrollment period isn't until Nov. 15. (It goes through Feb. 15.)

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