Even after all the talk about the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a “Obamacare”), I still run into people who have no clue that if they do not sign up for health insurance this year, they will be paying penalty for the failure to do so. How much is the penalty? It depends on several factors including income and family size. For example, for a single person (with no children and no other dependents) earning $30,000 per year, the tax penalty in 2014 is $199, in 2015 it is $412 and in 2016, it is $695! This year, come April 15th, many people are going to be in for a rude awakening when they see that their refund check is greatly reduced because of their failure to obtain health insurance.
The government, specifically, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has, in its infinite wisdom, decided to provide individuals with a post-tax season opportunity which allows people to obtain the insurance after the enrollment deadlines have passed. “We recognize that this is the first tax filing season where consumers may have to pay a fee or claim an exemption for not having health insurance coverage,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Our priority is to make sure consumers understand the new requirement to enroll in health coverage and to provide those who were not aware or did not understand the requirement with an opportunity to enroll in affordable coverage this year.”
CMS announced in February that they will provide consumers with the opportunity to purchase health insurance coverage from March 15 through April 30, 2015. If consumers do not purchase coverage during the special enrollment period, they may have to pay the penalty fees when they file their 2015 taxes. If you enroll in coverage on or before the 15th of the month, coverage will be effective on the first day of the following month (so if you enroll on or before March 15, 2015, you will have healthcare coverage beginning April 1, 2015).
Those eligible for special enrollment must live in a state with a Federally-facilitated Marketplace (FFM)(which Florida has) and 1) currently are not enrolled in coverage through the FFM in 2015, 2) attest that when they filed their 2014 tax retain they paid a fee for not having health coverage in 2014, and 3) attest that they first became aware of, or understood the implications of, the Shared Responsibility Payment after the end of open enrollment (February 15, 2015) in connection with preparing their 2014 taxes.
Interestingly, Florida was Number 1 in enrollments of the 50 states for those who enrolled during Open Enrollment in 2015. In Florida, 980,000 people signed up for insurance last year, and 1.2 million enrolled for 2015. The most common plan was the Silver Plan, and the average premium being paid was $61 per month. Participating marketplace insurers for 2015 include Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida, Cigna, Coventry Health Care of FL, Florida Health Care Plan, Health First Health Plans, Health Options, Humana, Molina Healthcare of Florida, Preferred Medical Plan, Sunshine State Health Plan, Time Insurance Company and UnitedHealthCare of Florida.
Bottom line with Obamacare – Can you afford not to have health insurance? If you don’t, you will pay the penalty.
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