Uninsured extension for Obamacare

Noting that “health care and taxes now are linked arm in arm,” Covered California has extended the 2015 signup deadline for the uninsured who admit they were clueless about penalties for not having health-care coverage.

health care costs in dollarsThe state Obamacare operation’s move — the second extension of 2015 — mirrors one by the federal government. Both extensions had been expected due to lobbying by lawmakers and consumer advocates.

“Many people who are supposed to purchase insurance may be unaware of the penalty and surprised when they go to their tax preparation professional for help” in filing for the 2014 tax year, Covered California said. The extension of the coverage signups for 2015 doesn’t help those who failed to have coverage in 2014, although the “shared responsibility payment” was less last year.

That penalty under the Affordable Care Act becomes due for the first time April 15.

Consumers signing up for health-care coverage Feb. 23 through April 30 must check a box called “Informed of Tax Penalty Risk,” indicating they did not realize there was a tax penalty.

The tax extension is considered a “special enrollment.” The final deadline for regular enrollments was to pass Feb. 22, following a special seven-day extension for those who struggled with the signup process. The 2015 enrollment officially ended Feb. 15.

The extensions, of course, help Covered California come closer to its 2015 total enrollment goal of 1.7 million consumers. Enrollment was put at about 1.4 million right after Feb. 15.

Those who can afford insurance but don’t buy it for 2015 will pay $325 per adult in a household or 2 percent of their income, whichever is greater. That amount comes due at tax time.

“Because of the subsidies available, many people will find it actually costs less to buy insurance than to pay the penalty,” Covered California chief Peter Lee said.

Meanwhile, Covered California officials admitted to sending out about 100,000 incorrect tax forms to its customers for the 2014 tax year. The faulty 1095-A forms misstated the period for which families had health insurance, the Associated Press reported. The Obamacare operation said it sent email and postcards to those affected.

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