REMINDER: January 15th is the deadline for Feb. 1st coverage in 46 states + DC!!

Yes, that's right: We're quickly approaching the next big deadline: Private policy enrollment in time for coverage starting on February 1st.

Of the 3 monthly deadlines (January 1st start, February 1st start, March 1st start), this is the one getting the lowest amount of hype, for obvious reasons. The December 15th (or December 18, 23 or later, depending on the state) deadline was a huge deal because millions of people had to be renewed (either actively or automatically) in order to avoid any sort of a coverage gap, while a few million more people new to the exchanges jumped on board in time to start 2015 running. By my estimate, there should have been roughly 8.6 million people whose 2015 policies started on Jan. 1st.

The mid-January deadline, meanwhile, will likely include a lot of those who were auto-renewed into their 2014 policies a few weeks back, just received their first premium bill and/or policy info for 2015, realized that their rates have gone up or there have been changes to their coverage that they don't care for, and want to switch to a different policy starting in February. These people do have coverage for January, but are switching to a different policy for the rest of the year. I'm also expecting roughly 900,000 additional people to enroll for Feb. 1st start dates.

After that, of course, we'll have the big Feburary 15th deadline, which will also be a big deal because it'll be the last chance many (not all) uninsured people have to get coverage before the door slams closed until next fall. Remember, the penalty in 2016 for not having health insurance in 2015 is considerably higher than it was for 2014: Instead of 1% of your taxable income (or $95/person in your household, whichever is higher), the fee this year is 2% of your income or $325 per person. I'm anticipating up to 3 million last-minute enrollees finally pulling the trigger by 2/15.

In any event, for 46 states (as well as the District of Columbia), the 2nd deadline above, for a 2/01 start date, is coming up Thursday, January 15th.

For the remaining 4 states, the deadline is a bit later...and unlike December, I'll be very surprised if any of the exchanges (federal or state-based) extends their deadline this month:

  • Maryland: January 18th
  • Massachusetts: January 23rd
  • Rhode Island: January 23rd
  • Washington State: January 23rd