CHARLESTON, W.Va., Dec. 22 (UPI) -- As the holidays approach, those who are uninsured or who buy health insurance themselves, can still purchase a plan, a West Virginia healthcare advocate says.
"We understand this is a busy weekend, but if folks can take an hour to apply for insurance and pay their first month's premium, they can have health coverage by Jan. 1," Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, said in a statement. "The website is working much better, and people are getting coverage as well as receiving tax credits, depending on income, that will help with premium costs."
Those in other states can purchase health insurance via their state's website, and those living in the 36 states that chose to have the federal government provide an online marketplace can buy insurance via heathcare.gov. Those who don't not know whether their state has an online health insurance marketplace can access the federal website and it will connect people to their state website.
People who want their health insurance to begin Jan. 1 will need to select a plan either through the marketplaces or directly through an insurance carrier in most states by Dec. 23. Those who have selected a plan will have until Dec. 31 to pay their first premiums for coverage beginning on Jan. 1, the Commonwealth Fund, a New York non-profit group said.
Most major insurance companies have agreed to provide a grace period of 10 days in January, so coverage would be retroactive to Jan. 1 for those who pay their premiums by Jan. 10. Some states have further extended their sign-up and payment deadlines -- Maryland to Dec. 27 and Jan. 15, and Rhode Island to Dec. 31 and Jan. 6. Oregon and Washington have also announced extensions, the Commonwealth Fund reported.
However, open enrollment for health insurance and federal subsidies is through March 31. Those who are without coverage still have a few months to sign up if they miss deadlines for coverage beginning in January.
Enrolling in a plan in January will enable someone to have health insurance beginning in February.