Q&A The end of open enrollment

The Affordable Care Act provided a six-month enrollment period to buy insurance that ends on March 31. The deadline affects anyone who doesn't get insurance through their workplace. Here are some frequently asked questions.

Q: What if I don't buy coverage by March 31?

A: You'll have to wait until next year's open enrollment, which starts Nov. 15, even if you want to buy it. There are exceptions for people who have insurance but whose status changes for such reasons as changing or losing a job, having a baby, or getting married or divorced.

Q: What about fines?

A: Those without coverage by the end of March could face a tax penalty of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is higher. It's important to note that you still won't have insurance and you'll be on the hook for 100 percent of medical costs if you get sick.

Q: Does this apply only to shopping on MNsure?

A: No. After March 31, you won't be able to use a broker or buy directly from the insurance companies until the next open enrollment period, unless your existing health insurance status changes.

Q: What if I'm eligible for a public health program?

A: Those who qualify for Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare can enroll in coverage at any time, but officials urge families and individuals not to wait.

Q: Do I have to use the MNsure.org website?

A: If you qualify for tax credits that can immediately be applied to your lower your insurance premium, the MNsure site is the only place to claim them.

Q: How can I find out whether I qualify for subsidies?

A: Calculators are available at kff.org and HealthTaxCreditTool.org. Generally, credits are available on a sliding scale for individuals earning up to $45,960 or a family of three with income of $78,120.