Saturday, February 7, 2015

Avoid The Obamacare No-Insurance Penalty By Feb 15

If you don't have health insurance, act NOW or you could owe penalties on your 2015 taxes, in addition to this year's.
ATTENTION! If you’re one of the 7.3 million Americans who have insurance through the Affordable Care Act – or one of the 13.4 % who do not but probably should – there’s a deadline looming that you cannot miss. If you miss it, you’re likely to have some stiff penalties when you file your taxes this year and next.
Here’s how it works. Under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, most people are required to have healthcare insurance. As long as you have insurance through your employer, insurance you purchased on your own, Medicare, Medicaid, a Veterans plan or some other qualifying coverage, you have nothing to worry about. You can check to see if your plan qualifies by clicking here.
If you don’t have qualifying coverage, don’t panic: You aren’t going to jail, but you will pay a penalty when you file your income taxes and that penalty can be large. If you didn’t have coverage in 2014, you will pay 1% of your household income or $95 per person ($47.50 per child under 18) – whichever is higher. In 2014, the median household income was reported at $53.891. An uninsured couple filing jointly as married with one child would pay around $336 when they complete their 2014 taxes.
In 2015, the penalty is much higher. Plan to pay 2% of your yearly household income or $325 per person ($162.50 per child under 18) – whichever is higher. That same family of three might pay around $812 when they complete their 2015 taxes next year, assuming they didn’t get coverage at any time during 2015. You can read more about the penalties here.
Of course there are a plethora of tax situations that can affect these amounts. You and your tax preparer will figure it out together. Others might be exempt from the penalty fees. See if you’re exempt here.
Open Enrollment is NOW
If you received coverage through an employer in the past, you know that there are certain periods when you can change your current policy or enroll for new coverage. You can’t do it whenever you would like unless certain life events happen. If you miss the open enrollment window, you’re out of luck until the next period comes or a qualifying event happens.
Obamacare is the same way. Open enrollment to buy insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace/Exchange runs from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. If you don’t have coverage by February 15, you won’t be able to get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace until the next open enrollment period. Translation: Miss the February 15th deadline and you could be nailed on next year's taxes even before this year's tax deadline has passed. (See Open Enrollment For Health Insurance Marketplace.)
There are a few ways to obtain coverage after the deadline passes. If you get married, add a child to your family, start a new job, or lose your current coverage for a qualifying reason you can sign up for Affordable Care Act coverage outside of the enrollment period. If you qualify for Medicaid, you can enroll at any time. Another way to avoid the penalty: Purchase coverage on your own through a private insurer – you won't be eligible for subsidies you might have qualified for through the Health Insurance Exchange/Marketplace, but you will be covered. You can learn more about these options by clicking here.
If you qualify for an hardship exemption, you may not owe a penalty for 2014. Find out if you qualify by clicking here.
Saved By Auto-Renew?
If you were already enrolled in a plan through the marketplace in 2014, there’s a good chance that it was automatically renewed on January 1. You probably received a letter telling you how to renew your coverage. Even if you didn’t do anything, your plan was probably renewed with all of the same terms, but don’t assume anything. Many state healthcare exchanges don’t have an auto-renew feature.
If you live in a state that doesn’t use the federal exchange (, verify your coverage. And if you do, verify it anyway. Non federal-exchange states include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, New York and Nevada. Click here, then scroll down for a map with the full list of states. If you want more information about auto-renew, click here.
Auto-renew assumes that all of the information you provided during your original enrollment is still true. You could face a penalty if anything changed and you didn’t report it.
The Bottom Line
Some 90% of people who apply for coverage through receive some sort of financial assistance. With odds like that, there’s a really good chance that you won’t pay full price.
There are plenty of resources to help you get coverage at the lowest cost. Visit and read about how to obtain coverage. Or click here to find somebody near you that can help. For more on the Affordable Care Act, see Tips On The Health Insurance Marketplace/Exchange.

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