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Money Fix: Obamacare sign-up options

For those who now think Obamacare might be

For those who now think Obamacare might be a good idea, there are options for life changes, but for the rest it's coming around again in the fall. Photo Credit: Healthcare.gov

The March 31 deadline to sign up for Obamacare has long passed. If you had analysis paralysis or for whatever reason didn't get coverage, you may still have options.

WHAT'S CHANGED?

For those going through life events like getting married, divorced, having a baby or getting a new job, "there is an additional window of opportunity to enroll," says Linda Tiano, a partner in the health care practice at Epstein Becker Green in Manhattan. If you have a qualifying event and you're subsidy-eligible, you can still access your subsidy. "There are also special exceptions for people who had difficulty in the exchange," Tiano adds.

BRIDGE THE GAP

At any time you can apply for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Until Nov. 15, when open enrollment resumes, explore short-term insurance plans. They typically provide coverage for 30-365 days. They often don't cover pre-existing conditions or preventive care but can limit your financial liability for medical bills in case of hospitalization, says Carrie McLean, director of customer care at eHealth.com. The average premium for the last quarter of 2013 for eHealth customers was $125 a month for individuals and $251 a month for families.

BE READY NEXT TIME

You'll pay a penalty for not having Obamacare-compliant coverage -- either $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. "If you waited out the first year, you might want to jump in. Penalties are going up," warns Jane DuBose of Decision Resources Group in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2015, you'll get hit with a penalty of $325 and in 2016, $695.

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