Wyoming Insurance Commissioner Tom Hirsig said March 31st marks the end of the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Obama Administration announced this week that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on healthcare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, March 31, will now have until about mid-April to ask for an extension. This only applies to people living in states like Wyoming that use the federal exchange. Hirsig said to be safe, Wyoming residents should at least have the process of choosing a plan started by Monday's deadline.

For consumers who want to purchase plans through the Exchange, the most efficient and easiest way to enroll is online at healthcare.gov. In addition, consumers can enroll by phone at 1-800-318-2596. Consumers who want to purchase health plans in the private market can enroll through an agent or broker. Monday is also the deadline for private market health plans.

If you miss the current enrollment deadline, you will not be able to purchase health insurance until the next enrollment period--which is currently scheduled for November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. Under the ACA, individuals who do not have health insurance in 2014 may have to pay a tax penalty.

Individuals that experience certain life events may be eligible for special enrollment periods. Examples include: losing employer coverage, having a baby, adopting a child, or a permanent move.

There may be insurance products available for purchase outside of the open enrollment period, but these products are not considered comprehensive health insurance and will not protect consumers from the tax penalty.