By CALVIN PYNN
With less than two weeks until the open enrollment period through the Health Insurance Marketplace closes, individuals and their families have until Monday, March 31 to find a health insurance plan that fits them under the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
In addition to being without health insurance without any way to obtain it until 2015, those who miss the March 31 deadline will also face an income tax penalty. According to Yahoo! Finance, households who let the deadline pass will have to pay a penalty of $95 per adult and $47.50 per child until they are properly insured.
Uninsured households could pay up to a maximum of $285 per family, or one percent of their annual income, whichever is greater. That penalty will increase for the subsequent years that an individual or family goes without health insurance.
By 2016, the penalty for uninsured households will be 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person, whichever is higher.
The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group based in Washington, has a penalty calculator available on their website to help individuals and their families figure out the annual cost for going without insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
As the federal government is in charge of handling the state’s healthcare exchange, so Virginians will need to sign up for coverage through the government’s website, www.healthcare.gov. The site is meant to ease the enrollment process by allowing users to compare plans and options, as well as answering questions.
Unemployed individuals may qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or lower costs based on income. The same rule can apply for those who fall in the low-income range, as coverage eligibility and options are dictated by household size and income, rather than employment status.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans can no longer refuse coverage or charge more because of pre-existing conditions. Coverage for children is mandatory under the Affordable Care Act, and adult children can be added or kept on a family plan until they turn 26 years old.
No employer is required to offer coverage under the affordable care act. Those who own a small business could qualify for a health care tax credit worth up to 50 percent of their premium costs, according to healthcare.gov.
Various insurance plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace have different policies regarding which doctors an insured individual can have. Depending on the type of policy one has, an individual may only be covered when they receive care from a network provider.
Those who are retired can find out if they are eligible for Medicaid through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Those who are already covered by Medicaid are not required to buy a health plan, and the same rule applies for those who have Medicare.
For more information and to sign up for a plan, visit www.healthcare.gov. Individuals who are curious about tax penalties with the absence of health insurance can use the Tax Policy Center’s penalty calculator at taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/acacalculator.cfm.