Ana Ibarra Health

ICYMI: Consumers get extra time to sign up for health coverage

Over the past few days, I’ve received several calls and emails from people with questions about the additional time that the state’s health exchange has given to consumers to sign up for coverage, and whether this extension applies to them.

In a nutshell, here is what happened and what you need to know:

▪ The deadline to sign up for health coverage for this year’s open enrollment was Feb. 15. Officials then extended this original deadline to Feb. 22, giving those who couldn’t complete their application some extra time.

▪ However, last week, Covered California announced a special enrollment period that will help people avoid a steeper tax penalty when filing taxes next year.

▪ This special period started Feb. 23 and will end April 30. Those interested in purchasing insurance through Covered California, can do so until the end of April.

▪ People qualify for this extension as long as they attest that they were not aware of the penalty for being uninsured. No documentation is needed. Meaning you can simply go to an insurance agent or a certified enrollment counselor and say: “I didn’t know I would get fined if I didn’t have health insurance.”

▪ Those enrolling on their own can select the “Informed of Tax Penalty Risk” tab when filling out an application on CoveredCA.com,

▪ If you can afford insurance but decide to remain uninsured in 2015, here’s what happens: next year, when you go to file your taxes, you will be subject to paying $325 per adult or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater.

▪ This new deadline does not apply to Medi-Cal. People can sign up for Medi-Cal year-round.

▪ To find local assistance, click here.

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