The Obama administration will give consumers who were uninsured last year a second chance to sign up for health-care coverage through the federally-run health care exchanges.
Open enrollment on the Obamacare exchanges officially ended on Sunday. But the administration will allow those who didn’t have coverage in 2014 – and now have to pay the individual mandate penalty for the first time – to sign up on Healthcare.gov between March 15 and April 30.“We recognize that this is the first tax filing season where consumers may have to pay a fee or claim an exemption for not having health insurance coverage,” said Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “Our priority is to make sure consumers understand the new requirements to enroll in health coverage and to provide those who were not aware or did not understand the requirement with an opportunity to enroll in affordable coverage this year.”
The special enrollment period will only be available to individuals living in the 37 states whose insurance exchanges are run by the federal government. Consumers can sign up if they were subject to the individual mandate in 2014 for not having coverage—the first year that the penalty took effect—and only realized this when they filed their taxes this year.
More than 11 million Americans have already signed up or re-enrolled in 2015 coverage through the exchanges, the administration reported earlier.
The individual mandate took effect in 2014, but many Americans may only become aware of the penalties for being uninsured when they file their taxes in the first months of 2015, after open enrollment has officially closed.
Last year, the penalty for lacking adequate health coverage was $95 per person or 1% of their yearly household income, whichever is greater, with a maximum penalty of $2,448. In 2015, the penalties go up to $325 per person or 2% of yearly household income.
The administration also said Friday that about 800,000 Americans using Healthcare.gov received erroneous tax information and should delay filing their taxes until they get corrected information, according to NBC News.