Tags: Healthcare Reform | obamacare | special | signup period | 36 | 000

Report: 36,000 Americans Use Special Obamacare Signup Period

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Apr 2015 04:57 PM

About 36,000 Americans have signed up for health plans on Healthcare.gov since March 15 to avoid paying a penalty next year, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

A press release says because of the special filing period that was introduced for March 15-April 30, thousands of Americans have taken the opportunity to sign up for healthcare for 2015.

"The tax special enrollment period began on March 15, 2015 and will end at 11:59 pm EDT on April 30, 2015 for people living in states with a federally-facilitated Marketplace," reads the release, which details the conditions people must meet in order to be eligible for the filing extension.

Americans have until April 15 to file their 2014 tax returns.

"Our focus is squarely on increasing public awareness about this tax season," Health Insurance Marketplaces CEO Kevin Counihan said. "We're making sure Marketplace consumers have the information they need to file their tax returns and that those who went without health coverage last year are aware of the requirement to have coverage or qualify for an exemption. Those who don't qualify for an exemption and remain uninsured and did not understand the implications of the requirement to have insurance will need to pay a fee but also will have a final opportunity to enroll in affordable health coverage for the remainder of the year."

The current tax filing period is the first time Americans are required to declare on their returns whether they had health insurance last year. Those who did not have coverage and did not qualify for an exemption must pay a fine of "generally $95 per adult or 1 percent of their household income, whichever is greater," according to the release.

The penalty for not carrying coverage in 2015 increases to the greater of $325 per adult or 2 percent of household income.

The release notes that some states are also offering similar special enrollment periods.

The Obama administration claimed health plans available on the federal marketplace would be more affordable, but reports say premiums have increased by an average of 5 percent for this year.

Another report, citing a vice president at tax filing service H&R Block, said the majority of Americans who opted not to carry health insurance last year are electing to pay the fine over signing up for coverage.

Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act — which was signed into law five years ago — could be struck down if the Supreme Court rules against it in an ongoing case. The justices heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell in early March, and the ruling is expected in June.

The outcome could erase subsidies for Obamacare customers in 37 states, which could potentially collapse the law and leave millions without healthcare plans.

GOP lawmakers vowed to have a replacement law waiting in the wings when the ruling is announced.

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About 36,000 Americans have signed up for health plans on Healthcare.gov since March 15 to avoid paying a penalty next year, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.
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Wednesday, 01 Apr 2015 04:57 PM
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