Under the Affordable Care Act, the government set up certain rules on when individuals can enroll for health insurance. For 2015, the open enrollment period ended on Feb. 15. The only permissible time to enroll outside this period is through a Special Enrollment Period, which are for life events such as marriage, divorce, loss of employer-based coverage and similar major events. Failure to enroll in coverage results in a penalty. For tax year 2014, the penalty was $95 per individual, or one percent of your household income (whichever is greater), up to the cost of the national average bronze plan, which for 2014, was $2,448. Again, this is PER PERSON.
So, here we are in 2015 and it’s that time of year when we start filing our 2014 taxes. Those who did not have insurance last year are now learning how much it will cost them in a tax penalty. Since the annual open enrollment period has ended, those without coverage are facing an even stiffer penalty for 2015: $325, or two percent of your household income up to the cost of the national average bronze plan per person.
Here is the GOOD NEWS. The government is providing a special enrollment period to purchase health insurance, which begins March 15 and ends April 30, 2015. This truly is a tax season gift for those who wish to avoid a full year of penalties when they file their taxes NEXT year. As with any “special enrollment period,” there are certain qualifications.
First, you must not currently be covered for 2015. It is not an opportunity to change your existing plan. Second, you must attest that when you filed your 2014 taxes, you paid the penalty. Finally, you must attest that you first became aware, or understood the implications, of the mandate when you filed your taxes for 2014.
For those who have not yet purchased a plan, this is truly a great second chance. There are a lot of options available to you, and you may even qualify for a subsidy to help you pay for the cost of your chosen insurance plan. So where do you start? Healthcare.gov is up, running and ready to go. Better yet, you can work with a licensed marketplace certified broker who can walk you through the process for no added cost. What are you waiting for? FBN
By Ed Gussio
Benefit Logic is an independent insurance agency based in Flagstaff, and owned by NAU Alumni Ed and Shelly Gussio. The Benefit Logic team is committed to assisting individuals and businesses through health care reform and beyond. Come by and see how they can help you.