Affordable Care Act Facts 2021

What You Need to Know About Obamacare for 2021

Updated: 2021-02-16 by
Essential facts about the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) in your state, including whether you must get health insurance, how much it will cost, and how you can save money.


A little confused about what's going on with the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare? Here are answers to common questions, including:

  • enrollment dates for your state
  • whether or not you must buy health insurance
  • what available plans cover
  • how much you'll need to pay for coverage, and
  • how to sign up.

Here are some basics to keep in mind:

All states but Idaho are currently running special enrollment periods because of COVID-19. During this time, you can sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act outside of open enrollment, without having to prove special circumstances. Most states are offering COVID-related special enrollment until May 15, 2021. You can use your state's online health insurance marketplace to choose a plan, apply for cost-saving subsidies, and get other help. Select your state from the list below to learn its rules. 

Obamacare has not been struck down or repealed. A case seeking to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional still sits before the U.S. Supreme Court. However, a ruling on that case is still months away, and changes under the Biden administration could end the case before the court decides it. You can continue to use your state's health insurance exchange to compare plans, sign up for coverage, and get financial assistance.

You won’t face a federal tax penalty for going without health insurance in 2021—but there are many other downsides to being uninsured. If you don’t have health insurance coverage, you won’t have to pay a penalty when you file your federal taxes, though a handful of states have passed their own insurance requirements with penalties. No matter where you live, think carefully about whether it makes sense to forego insurance. A medical crisis could knock the financial wind from your sails and do more damage than the penalty would. And if you miss open enrollment and find yourself needing coverage mid-year, you may have to wait until 2022 to get it.

You may qualify for a subsidy. Many people are eligible for tax credits that will lower monthly premiums. If your income is very low, you may qualify for Medicaid and get free or very low-cost coverage.

For local details, choose your state from the list on this page.

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