Today marks the deadline for Americans who are currently uninsured to enroll in a health plan through the federal insurance marketplace in order to avoid paying a tax penalty.
Though the federal government has stated that today is the firm deadline for those seeking “Obamacare”, according to The Washington Post, the Obama administration has decided to give extra time to those who claim they are unable to enroll by the deadline.
Though the extension has been created for those who “made a good faith effort” to sign up for insurance by the deadline, under the new rules, those applying for an extension will simply need to check a blue box on HealthCare.gov stating they tried to enroll before the deadline. The Washington Post notes that this method will rely on an “honor system” and that the government will not try to determine whether a person truly tried to sign up before the deadline, or simply missed it altogether.
Though the use of the extension creates a loophole for the deadline, The Washington Post noted that White House officials have stated the March 31 deadline was firm. Instead of altering the deadline, the extension will create a group of people eligible for what is referred to as a “special enrollment period” — a choice popular amongst those who would like to see as many people as possible become insured.
According to HealthCare.gov, the way the penalty is calculated, a single adult with household income below $19,650 would pay the $95 flat rate. A single adult with household income above $19,650 would pay an amount based on the 1 percent rate. (If income is below $10,150, no penalty is owed.) The penalty increases every year. In 2015 it’s 2 percent of income or $325 per person.
In 2016 and later years it’s 2.5% of income or $695 per person. After that it’s adjusted for inflation. If you’re uninsured for just part of the year, 1/12 of the yearly penalty applies to each month you’re uninsured. If you’re uninsured for less than 3 months, you don’t have to make a payment. For 2014, those who do not have health insurance or qualify for an extension will pay the penalty pus $47.50 per child (up to the maximum of $285 for a family).
Due to a surge of those attempting to file for insurance today, technical errors and high call-wait times have been reported in association with the site with some being told they will not receive a return call for up to 5-7 business days. Though 6 million people have reportedly signed up for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the majority of those still uninsured are unaware of the federal mandate and looming deadline to sign-up for coverage.
“In the final days of open enrollment for new health insurance options under the ACA, substantial shares of the uninsured remain unaware of the law’s individual mandate and the looming deadline to sign up for coverage. A third of those who lack coverage as of mid-March are unaware that the law requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine. When it comes to the specifics, four in ten of the uninsured (39 percent) are aware that the deadline to sign up for coverage is at the end of March, leaving about six in ten unaware of the March deadline,” states the Foundation’s recent tracking poll.
For further information or to sign up for insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, visit www.HealthCare.gov.