December 15 Deadline for Marketplace Health Insurance

by Lorin Hancock , Program Officer, Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services
Infographic with text reading: Health Insurance, Deadline is December 15, Are you covered?It’s a crazy time of year and you likely have plenty of to-dos on your list. But there’s one important task that won’t wait: signing up for health insurance.

If you don’t have health insurance for 2019, this is the time to look at your options and choose a plan. You only have until Dec. 15 to purchase a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also known as Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. The Marketplace offers high quality plans at comparatively low costs, which is why they’re only available for a limited amount of time each year.

A good first step is to see if you’re eligible for Medicaid—free or low-cost health coverage offered by the government to low-income individuals. This quiz will help give you an idea if you might qualify. If you are likely eligible, go ahead and apply for Medicaid online.

If you likely aren’t eligible for Medicaid and you don’t get insurance another way, like through your employer or your spouse, you can still get affordable, quality coverage through the Marketplace.

Woman using a laptop on a table with notebook and pen to her leftFinding a plan and signing up is easy: just visit, and follow the prompts to apply for the first time, or renew if you’ve purchased Marketplace coverage before. The system will guide you through all your options, and you will be able to shop for and compare health plans.

Remember: you must select your plan by Dec. 15. After that, you can only enroll in Marketplace insurance if you have a qualifying life event.

Common Myths About Health Insurance

- Healthy people don’t need insurance

False: Accidents and unexpected illnesses can happen to anyone, even younger people and those without a history of health problems. Having insurance protects you from unexpected, high medical costs. Marketplace plans also include free preventative care, which can help you take control of your health and identify potential problems before they become an emergency.

- I have pre-existing conditions so I can’t get insurance

False: All Marketplace plans must cover treatment for pre-existing medical conditions, at no additional cost to you. No insurance plan can reject you, charge you more, or refuse to pay for essential health benefits for any condition you had before your coverage started.

- Health insurance is too expensive

Probably false: Many people are eligible for health insurance subsidies through the Marketplace. A single person in Ohio earning less than $48,500 is still eligible for help with monthly premiums. See if you’re eligible for a subsidy. You may even qualify for extra savings on deductibles, copayments, and other costs.

When considering the cost of insurance, you should also weigh the potential high cost of not having it—both to your wallet and your health.

- Since the law changed, I don’t need health insurance in 2019

True and False: From 2019 onward, you will no longer have to pay a penalty if you don’t have insurance. However, it’s probably still in your best interest to be insured.

Still have questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace? Visit or call 1-800-318-2596 for help. But act quickly! Dec. 15 will be here before you know it.