Special enrollment period through April 30 is available for people who learned of penalties on their 2014 tax return.
It shouldn’t have been news to anyone that if you don’t have health insurance, you’ll have to pay a penalty unless your income is so low you can’t afford coverage. But since 2014 was the first year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalty for not having insurance kicked in, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is giving people a break.
A special enrollment period for 2015 is underway now through April 30 and is specifically for people who were unaware of how the fine for not having coverage affected them.
To be eligible, you must attest to the fact that you first learned of the implications of the fine after the end of open enrollment on February 15, 2015, in connection with preparing your 2014 taxes. You must have paid the fine for not having health coverage in 2014.
By enrolling before April 30th, you can get covered for the rest of 2015 and not get fined again on next year’s taxes. The fine for 2015 is $325 or 2% of income above the federal tax filing threshold, whichever is higher.
Get Covered America has experts available who can help you figure out if you qualify for the special enrollment period. You can also visit Healthcare.gov to see if you qualify, start the enrollment process, and find out if you are eligible for tax credits to help you pay for health insurance.
With the help of tax credits, the cost of insurance may be less than any fine you’d have to pay — and you’ll have something to show for it: health insurance.
For those grumbling about the penalty, remember that the uninsured cost everyone who is insured money, so requiring a penalty is only fair since even the uninsured can receive care in an emergency. But really, doesn’t it make more sense to have insurance in case you need it?