Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act continues through Jan. 31, but to have coverage starting Jan. 1, you need to sign up by Dec. 15. You can sign up online at the or get assistance signing up by making an appointment with one of the federally funded healthcare navigators who are available across the state.

Experts suggest allocations of 90 minutes to complete the application process, although some have been able to finish in 40 minutes. 

What do you need to sign up? Before you set down at your computed or head to an appointment with your healthcare navigator, here is what you should have in place:

  • Names, Social Security  numbers, birth dates. and addresses for everyone you want to cover in  your household.
  • Immigration documents, if relevant.
  • Employer and income tax forms, such as your W-2.
  • Policy numbers and plan ID for any current health insurance plans covering you or family members.
  • If you or your spouse’s employer offers insurance, but you opt not to purchase it, a completed employer coverage form, found at:
  • Your household’s estimated 2016 income.

Income is particularly important because some people may qualify for two types of assistance to lower their costs based on financial need, Koenig said. People earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line can qualify for tax credits to reduce the cost of their premiums, she said, and people earning between 100 percent and 250 percent also may get a form of cost-sharing that is applied toward deductibles and copays.

If you choose to opt out of the insurance program, not that you will owe a fee for any month you, your spouse or your tax dependents don’t have health insurance that qualifies as “minimum essential coverage.” The 2016 fine for not having insurance will rise to 2.5% of household income or $695 per adult and $348 per child, whichever is higher. It had been 2% of income or $325 per adult and $163 per child this year.

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