Skip to main content

Secretary's Column: Deadline Approaching for Health Insurance Coverage that Begins January 1

Posted by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in Initiatives
Dec 12, 2014

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is already making a difference in the lives of millions of rural Americans. Thanks to the ACA, families can choose from a variety of affordable insurance plans and many will qualify for financial assistance to help them pay for coverage.

The deadline is coming up to sign up for health insurance coverage that begins on January 1. To start the new year with coverage, you must sign up by December 15 at or call 1-800-318-2596 if you need help signing up.

If you miss that deadline, don’t worry—people that sign up between December 16 and January 15 will get coverage that starts on February 1. And for those who enroll between January 16 and February 15, coverage will begin on March 1. But don’t wait too long to sign up for health insurance coverage—open enrollment across the country ends on February 15.

Even if you already have coverage through the Marketplace, it pays to go back and review your plan. You may be able to find a plan that saves you money, offers more services, or includes more doctors. In fact, 8 in 10 current Marketplace enrollees can get coverage for $100 or less in 2015 after tax credits.

In addition to providing affordable health insurance options for rural families, the ACA also does things to address the underlying challenges to staying healthy in rural America. Insurance companies are now forbidden from denying you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition and they are required to cover preventive care. That’s good news for rural Americans who, on average, suffer from higher rates of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure than those living in urban areas.

The ACA also invests significantly in expanding services at community health centers, where 7.5 million rural Americans get access to primary and preventive care. That comes on top of the more than $3 billion USDA has invested since 2009 to strengthen health infrastructure in rural areas, build rural hospitals and health clinics, and expand access to health care in remote areas through telemedicine. And just a few weeks ago, we announced an additional $10 million in grants to improve access to health care in rural America.

The Affordable Care Act gives hardworking rural families the financial security and peace of mind they deserve. It makes rural communities stronger and rural families healthier. Remember: for coverage that begins January 1, sign up by December 15 at

Category/Topic: Initiatives