If consumers want to avoid a monetary penalty from the IRS regarding health care insurance, they need to sign up for coverage made possible by the new Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, by Feb. 15.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, used this detail as an example of the Obama administration being unclear about the new law. He said in a prepared statement that the administration has "repeatedly advertised that open enrollment starts on October 1, 2013 and ends on March 31, 2014."
"This law is about as clear as mud, and instead of helping Americans understand their new obligations, the Obama administration has been burying important changes—not announcing them boldly as you’d expect an administration that’s proud of its new health care law to do," Alexander said in a prepared statement.
But this information shouldn't be a surprise, David Yoder, co-founder of locally based company American Exchange—whose leaders are helping residents nationwide connect with health insurance through marketplaces—said.
The open enrollment period is what the administration has been advertising. That does run between Oct. 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014.
But, people can only go 90 days without having coverage. And, most companies start policies at the first of the month.
So, anyone who doesn't have insurance and doesn't want to pay a penalty must sign up by Feb. 15, so their coverage will start by March 1.
Anyone who waits until Feb. 16 might not get coverage until April 1, and then they have gone longer than 90 days without insurance, Yoder said.
"All the players have to make sure they have time to process everything, so there has to be some delay," he said. "[These dates] aren’t suprrising, I just don’t think the average person has thought they need to do it by that date."
People can still sign up for healthcare through March 31, but may be subject to penalties.
For the first year, the penalty for an individual who doesn’t sign up for insurance in time is $95 a year or 1 percent of a person's income, whichever is greater, and $47.50 for children, according to Nooga.com archives.
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