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Special enrollment period means millions can buy plans until April 30

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Obamacare’s annual open enrollment period ended in February. So why are millions of people continuing to enroll in qualified health plans through April 30?

It’s all because of a special enrollment period (SEP)– from March 15-April 30 – created to help millions of Americans who were surprised during their tax filing process to learn they would pay an Obamacare penalty for not having health insurance.

The federal government granted the SEP to taxpayers in the 37 states that use HealthCare.gov. But consumers in some other states also have been granted special enrollment periods by their state. If you fear that “the door has closed,” read this detailed summary of special enrollment periods in each state.

Last chance until November

For those who missed the open enrollment and the special enrollment period, options diminish greatly after April 30. Obamacare’s next open enrollment period begins on November 1, 2015, for coverage that will be effective January 1, 2016.

You may, however, still have the option to enroll in ACA-compliant coverage (and thus avoid the ACA’s individual mandate penalty) for 2015 if you have a qualifying event. Read more about how qualifying events trigger a special enrollment period.

Why you should pick up the phone

Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) we usually recommended people simply shop online. But today, with the complexities of premium subsidies, cost sharing subsidies, penalties – and now enrollment deadline extensions – it’s a smart move to talk to a licensed insurance agent who can help minimize your cost and maximize your benefits.

At healthinsurance.org, we don’t sell insurance, but we do partner with qualified call centers staffed with agents who are both licensed in your state and exchange certified. Visit your state page to find the telephone number for medical insurance professionals who can offer you free guidance, or call the general number at 1-866-414-0201.

Medical insurance for 2015

Since last year, an estimated 9.4 million Americans have enrolled in health insurance exchange – or marketplace – plans (and have paid their premiums). At the same time, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion has helped boost the number of new Medicaid enrollees to more than 7 million. What’s more, millions more Americans have enrolled in private ACA-compliant plans outside the exchanges – or off exchange.

Affordable, comprehensive health insurance

The health law’s critics continue to charge that Obamacare is driving up individual health insurance premiums and causing plan cancellations. But there’s plenty of evidence that for the first time, the law has allowed millions of Americans to find affordable medical insurance – thanks in part to generous subsidies – without fear of being excluded due to pre-existing conditions.

Free eBook about open enrollment

If you qualify for an open enrollment extension or have a qualifying event but aren’t sure where to start with the enrollment process, check out our new guide to open enrollment, available now as a free download. Written by health insurance expert Louise Norris, it’s filled with step-by-step instructions for hassle-free enrollment – or re-enrollment – in the exchanges or off exchange.

We wouldn’t call it cheap health insurance, but our free eBook does have tips for selecting plans that will give you the most coverage with the least drain on your pocketbook. (Health insurance premiums are important, but not the only factor to consider.) You can also read about strategies that will speed up your enrollment.

Don’t hesitate to let us know if you hit a snag in the process – or if you’re stumped by a question about health coverage. Of course, we’d also love to hear about your success in getting coverage and quality healthcare.

About us: your guide to family health insurance

Since 1994, healthinsurance.org has been a guide for consumers seeking straightforward explanations about the workings of individual health insurance – also known as medical insurance – and help finding affordable coverage.

The topic of insurance can be confusing, but we’re here with more information than ever: educational articles, expert health policy analysis, frequently asked questions about reform, a health insurance glossary, and guides to the healthcare marketplaces and other insurance resources in each state.

Coverage tailored to your needs

We’re also here to help you find coverage. Though healthinsurance.org does not sell medical insurance, we partner with more than a half dozen other partners who do. That allows us to help you get health insurance quotes quickly and easily. Simply enter your ZIP code to receive a family health insurance quote that will help pinpoint coverage that fits your needs.