Benefits Buzz

3 Major Health Law Deadline Changes

Posted on December 4th, 2013

Here are three major Affordable Care Act (ACA) deadline changes that have made headlines recently.

1.    Individuals looking for a January 1, 2014 effective date will now have until December 23, 2013 to submit an application and until December 31, 2013* to make their initial premium payment in the public exchange. Additionally, each carrier must decide how they will handle the implementation of this change outside of the public exchange.

Individuals were originally required to submit an application and make their initial premium payment by December 15, 2013 to receive a January 1, 2014 effective date. This new deadline will give individuals some extra time to secure coverage by the start of the New Year. 

The recent announcement was made by Julie Bataille, Director of the Office of Communications for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and appears to have been made in response to the technical problems that and other Exchange websites have been experiencing. 

It should be noted that the processing of effective dates after January 1, 2014 has not changed. For example, individuals that are looking for a February 1, 2014 effective date must submit an application and the initial premium payment by January 15, 2015.

*UPDATE on December 18, 2013: Initial premium payment may be pushed back to January 10, 2014, depending on the insurer. Learn more.

2.    The SHOP Exchange (public exchange for small businesses) has been delayed until November 2014 to accept enrollments for 2015 plan years.

The announcement of the delay applies to states that have defaulted to a Federally-Facilitated Marketplace. The SHOP Exchange may be available for the upcoming year in states that are operating their own exchanges. 

Small businesses that meet certain requirements will still be eligible to receive tax credits next year even though they won’t be providing coverage to employees through the SHOP Exchange. 

Small businesses can still obtain coverage through traditional mechanisms such as working with an insurance producer. There also may be some private exchanges that are available. 

3.    The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for individual health insurance coverage next year will be changed to occur between November 15, 2014 and January 15, 2015.

White House press secretary Jay Carney announced at a recent press conference that the Obama administration plans to change the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) for individual health insurance coverage next year.  It was originally set to occur between October 15, 2014 and December 7, 2014.

Individuals can make plan changes or enroll in coverage without a qualifying event during the AEP. and other federal agency websites have not yet been updated to reflect these new dates. 

The delay will give insurance companies an extra month to monitor their claims experience and set rates for 2015, but critics are already saying this change conveniently pushes the AEP to start after the 2014 midterm elections.  

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Note: The materials contained within this communication are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal or tax advice.


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