Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins on November 1, 2016
  • The last day to enroll or change a plan is January 31, 2017
  • Medicaid and a Children’s Health Insurance Program has no enrollment dates. You can enroll at any time
  • Coverage begins on January 1, 2017 if you enroll or make changes by December 15, 2016
  • If you miss the deadline, you must meet the criteria for a qualifying event to receive an extension. Qualifying events may include a death in the family, marriage or pregnancy

If you miss the deadline to enroll in the health insurance exchange offered by your state, which is January 31, 2017, you cannot enroll after that unless you qualify for a special enrollment. Some of the qualifying factors for special enrollment include:

  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Birth or adoption
  • Death of a spouse
  • Job loss leading to the loss of health insurance

Reduction in work hours leading to employer-backed health insurance plan ineligibility

Keep in mind that under the Affordable Care Act, anyone who does not have qualifying health insurance for 2017 is subject to penalties. In 2016, the penalties were 2.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, or $695 for adults and $347.50 for children, whichever was higher. For 2017, the 2.5 percent penalty will remain the same as 2016 and the flat fees will increase or decrease based on inflation adjustments.

Enter your zip code here to compare health insurance quotes apply for coverage before the deadline!

Health Insurance Requirements


If you do not have a plan from another insurance carrier that will automatically renew in 2017, then you must sign up for health insurance during the open enrollment. Here are some of the requirements under the Affordable Care Act:

  • You must apply for coverage if you do not have employer insurance or insurance from your spouse’s employer.
  • You must apply during open enrollment if you do not have government-backed health insurance such as Veteran’s benefits, Medicare or Medicaid.
  • If you are over the age of 26 and no longer on your parent’s insurance, you must apply for coverage during open enrollment.
  • If you do not qualify for tax credits to help pay for health insurance, you must apply for coverage.

If you must apply for health insurance during open enrollment for 2017, you can comparison shop for the best plans that meet your health care needs.

Compare the insurance companies that are in your state’s network and what they offer regarding cost sharing. Remember that the more you pay in monthly premiums, the lower your cost-sharing.

Develop a health care strategy, and try to forecast just how much health insurance you think you will need in 2017. When you are comparison shopping, look at the plans in your network that meet your forecasted health care needs for 2017.

Premiums are on the rise in 2017, so do not overpay for insurance that you will not use.

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What Health Plans Must Cover


There are 10 essential benefits that all health plans must cover whether they are from a private insurer or the health insurance marketplace. The 10 critical benefits include:

  • Emergency Care
  • Hospitalization
  • Outpatient Care
  • Mental Health
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Rehabilitation Services
  • Pregnancy
  • Wellness and Preventive Services
  • Vision and Dental Care for Children
  • Lab Tests

If your health insurance plan does not meet the 10 essential health benefits benchmark, you may be considered underinsured and subject to penalties under the Affordable Care Act.

When you are shopping for a plan or making changes to your current plan during open enrollment, you must pay close attention to level of coverage for each of these services.

When you are comparison shopping in your state’s health insurance exchange, remember that each plan must provide you with a comprehensive and easy-to-understand description of how their plans work and what services they cover.

Enter your zip code at the bottom of this page to make sure you’re covered before the year’s deadline.