Covered California open enrollment deadline is February 15


For anyone who has been procrastinating on enrolling in a health insurance plan, there is just over a week left to decide. The deadline does not mean you cannot continue to shop for coverage in the Covered California marketplace but it does mean you won’t be able to be covered for 2015.

And if you don’t have coverage for 2015, a penalty will be incurred when filing a 2014 federal tax return. Nationwide, only about six percent of all taxpayers will be assessed a penalty.

If you didn’t have coverage in 2014, you’ll pay the higher of these two amounts when you file your 2014 federal tax return: one percent of your yearly household income, or $95 per person for the year ($47.50 per child under 18). 

If you don’t have coverage in 2015, you’ll pay the higher of these two amounts: two percent of your yearly household income, or $325 per person for the year ($162.50 per child under 18). The maximum penalty per family using this method is $975. 

As of mid January, 1.2 million Californians had enrolled in the exchange plans.

Ironically, red-state Florida has now surpassed blue-state California with their 1.27 million enrollees. It’s one of those unforeseen ironies of the Affordable Care Act, because the political leadership in Florida has been among the most outspoken critics of the legislation.

What it demonstrates is a commitment on the part of ACA advocates and the realization on the part of more people that there is a concerted need for affordable coverage. Florida is one of those states that decided not to expand Medicaid coverage, and that’s left an entire segment of the population no choice but to seek a subsidized private plan.

A spokesperson for Covered California said in California, where Medicaid (known as Med-Cal in California) was expanded, those whose incomes range between 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty line, aren’t allowed to enroll if they are Medi-Cal eligible. That’s why it’s critical to begin the enrollment process on the Covered California website as soon as possible.

Whether an applicant ends up with a subsidized plan or qualifying for Medi-Cal, either way they are covered. When the controversial Affordable Care Act was first passed in 2010 no one was certain what would happen to a healthcare system in desperate need of reform.

After the first four years since the ACA’s phased-in implementation, approximately 9.9 million formerly uninsured people now have healthcare insurance and the brakes have been applied to the out-of-control cost of healthcare. 

Fact: the percentage of the cost of healthcare relative to the U.S. Gross National Product (GNP) is decreasing for the first time since the 1990s.       

Need help navigating healthcare choices through Covered California before the deadline? Call Donna Perdew, a Covered California certified enrollment counselor at Family HealthCare Network, 561-4683.  

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