HealthCare.gov's special enrollment window for some consumers to get 2015 coverage starts Sunday, just as many of them realize they owe a tax penalty for failing to get health insurance last year.
The fee for the 2014 tax year is set at $95 for each uninsured person in the filing or 1% of household income (whichever is greater), and scheduled to rise in upcoming tax years: $325 or 2% for 2015; and $695 or 2.5% of household income for 2016.
But many Americans remain unaware of the penalties associated with not having health insurance. Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt cited a McKinsey & Co. study showing 40% of uninsured consumers who are liable for the penalty don't know about it.
From March 15 to April 30, the CMS will allow consumers to enroll in 2015 coverage if they:
- Owe a fee
- Didn't know about the open-enrollment period that ended Feb. 15
- Didn't know about the mandate
- Don't already have coverage
The White House previously estimated as many as 6 million people could be on the hook for the fine during this tax filing season for failing to get coverage last year.
Of the group without insurance, officials said, the majority qualify for one of the exemptions, such as financial hardship or religious beliefs. Consumers can find out whether an exemption applies to them using a tool on HealthCare.gov. If no exemption applies, the taxpayer is liable for a fee.
“We're not in the business of collecting fees or punishing people,” Counihan said.
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