Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said the deadlines for the ACA are confusing because they keep changing, but some matter more than others. For example, Monday's deadline for those wanting to be insured by Jan. 1 was extended until Tuesday for those using the federal website HealthCare.gov.
"Jan. 1 is not a deadline so much as an opportunity. It is the first day, when, if you signed up in time -- now Tuesday -- for the federal website, but a few states have later deadlines -- and paid your premium in time (at the administration's urging, many insurers are allowing a grace period through Jan. 10 for the federally run marketplaces and some states have also moved this date) -- you could enjoy the subsidized coverage available under the ACA," Blumenthal said in a statement. "But if you miss these so-called deadlines, you still have until March 31 to sign up for coverage to avoid a penalty."
For the millions of Americans who are uninsured, or who could have enrolled in improved insurance through a state or federal exchange, missing these deadline merely means you failed to make yourself better off as soon as you possibly could, Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said the big deadline is March 31, 2014.
"Under the ACA, all Americans must have health insurance, and this is the latest date you can acquire it if you wish to avoid paying a penalty on your 2014 income tax," Blumenthal said.
"Some individuals will be exempt from penalties, including, as of last week, people whose policies were canceled because their plans' benefits did not meet new ACA standards of adequacy."