More than financial penalty at stake for missed health care deadline

Minnetonka-based health insurer Medica has launched an ad campaign to remind consumers that the deadline to obtain health insurance is more than just about avoiding a penalty.

Under the federal health care law, most Americans who don't obtain insurance by March 31 will face a financial penalty.

But Medica's Dannette Coleman said many consumers who buy on the individual market don't realize that in most cases if they miss that deadline, they'll have to wait nine months until January first to get covered again.

What key dates do I need to know?

"We think there's still a lot of confusion in the market," said Coleman, adding, "It's really critical that people understand that the time is in front of them that they need to make a decision. And our concern is that you're going to have folks who for whatever reason who don't see an imminent need for needing health insurance think they'll just wait until something happens and then find out that's not an option for them."

There are exceptions for so-called, "life events" such as: losing a job, and getting divorced, or married. Consumers who experience a qualifying life event after the March 31 deadline can obtain coverage without having to wait until January 1.

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