This is a “yes” and “no”.
You can still get through the Marketplace if you have a Qualifying Life Event. This would be something like losing a job, getting married, moving, or having a kid. Additionally, if you become eligible for Medicaid, you wouldn’t be able to get Marketplace, but you would get into your state’s Medicaid program.
Many people seem to feel that, no matter what is going on with the Marketplace, you can still just go out and get a private policy.
many insurers are not offering policies during the gap between this enrollment and the next. The thinking is that the people who would be shopping in between April and November are those who suddenly find that they will need the insurance. These kinds of persons are traditionally what the insurance company referred to as “losses”. There are no eliminations for pre-existing conditions, like in the bad old days (of last year, even). So IF a company issues, they MUST issue. You see? This means companies simply choose not to issue.
You can’t change one major insurance rule without reorganizing the whole industry. It’s insane to exclude for pre-existing, and so it means everyone must be covered for insurance, to prevent a situation where the people only buy when they need it. This may not be such a big factor for people in their 50s and 60s (who generally need the coverage), but it does speak to the situations of young people, who might want to gamble on keeping the $100/month instead of paying premiums.
What to do about “young invincibles”, who feel they don’t need the coverage?
Since the premiums are relatively small anyway, there should be a rule that young people can always buy into Bronze, so long as they backpay the amount of premiums that would have been due had they already been insured in the intervening couple months or so between Open Enrollments. This would further expand the pool, and not necessarily destabilize it through adverse selection. A Bronze Plan still means there is a lot of self-insurance (maybe $6,000 premium). The arrangement basically becomes a public catastrophic pool with a buy-in.