Why Today’s Big Obamacare Deadline (Still) Matters to You

Why Today’s Big Obamacare Deadline (Still) Matters to You

If you still haven't decided whether you're signing up for a health plan on the exchange, it's time to pull the trigger: Open enrollment for 2017 ends January 31st.

If you're like a lot of folks, you may have been dragging your feet because of uncertainty over the fate of the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare).

But despite President Donald Trump's vow to repeal and replace the ACA, enrollment has hit record numbers: As of December 24, more than 11.5 million people signed up for marketplace plans—that's up by 286,000 over the same time last year, according to info from the Department of Health and Human Services.


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But why register for health insurance if your plan might get kicked to the curb and become obsolete later this year? Here are a few reasons why it's still a smart idea to go ahead and get your health insurance locked down.

No official replacement plan has been announced. Although Congress has taken steps toward the "repeal" part of Trump's campaign promise, the "replace" part has yet to surface. There’s no clear sign of when a new proposal will be announced, let alone passed by federal legislators. Securing healthcare coverage now means you have something to fall back on for some (if not all) of 2017. This would be especially important if you’re hit with an urgent health situation or surprise ER visit.

There is a tax penalty for being uninsured. Keep in mind that if you don’t sign up before the January 31 deadline and go uninsured, you'll still be responsible for paying the ACA penalty for not having any health insurance. The current penalty runs you either 2.5% of your household income, or $695 per uninsured adult and $347.50 per child under 18, up to a total of $2,085—whichever is higher. Skip coverage in 2017, and you may end up owing more at tax time in 2018.

You may qualify for tax breaks. If you've seen a drop in income this year and medical bills could wipe you out, you might be eligible for tax credits that can help you lower the cost of coverage (eight out of 10 enrollees so far in 2017 have been eligible for credits, according to the Department of Health data). You should be able to see what you're eligible for after going through the enrollment process on healthcare.gov.

RELATED: 3 People, 3 Insurance Plans: 'How My Health Coverage Helps Save Me Money'


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