Extended deadline for healthcare enrollment, fines to triple

Apr 21, 2015 11:20 AM by Alex Backus

Covered California opens an extended deadline to enroll in healthcare coverage and avoid penalties.

Hundreds of thousands of uninsured Californians are receiving their tax bill and noticing a hefty fine. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010 and now the penalty for being uninsured is increasing exponentially.

In 2014, affecting this season's tax bills, each uninsured adult was fined $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever was greater.

In 2015, the penalty jumps to $325 or 2 percent of income and for 2016, $695 dollars or 2 ½ percent of income, again whichever is greater.

For those who are now noticing the hefty fine and remain uninsured, Covered California has extended a deadline of April 30 to allow eligible residents to enroll in coverage and avoid fines. Residents who enroll by this new deadline will still be fined for January through May of 2015.

Dana Howard, Deputy Director of Communications for Covered California, says an exact number of uninsured Californians is difficult to measure, but it's estimated there are about one million who are eligible. He adds many of those qualify for subsidies.

"Upfront money back on my taxes from the federal government to offset my costs each month for my premium," Howard explains.

To qualify, you must be a California resident and not be incarcerated.

New numbers from the last open enrollment period, between November 2014 and February 2015, show 17,000 North State residents enrolled in Covered California.

"So it tells us in that the North State, folks are getting the message but on top of that, there are still a lot of people who still do not have coverage," Howard says.

To enroll, go to CoveredCa.com, click on the "Get Help" tab and select "Find Local Help" for assistance in your area.

"We recommend you go to an agent or a counselor because there are different plans to select," Howard says. "But don't wait until the last minute."


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