The special enrollment period for federal insurance exchanges has ended
April 30 was the last day for people to purchase health insurance coverage through federal exchanges in the United States. The federal government had opted to extend the open enrollment period in order to give people more time to receive the coverage that they needed. This was done in order to provide consumers with a way to avoid tax penalties that are associated with the Affordable Care Act, which will impact those that do not have insurance coverage.
Those without insurance coverage face tax penalties
According to the Affordable Care Act, all U.S. citizens must have some form of health insurance coverage. Those that do not, will face fines when they file for taxes. Those that did not have coverage during 2014, will see tax penalties, which have been increased this year. Last year, the tax penalty was set at $95 per uninsured individual, or 1% of an individual’s annual household income, whichever is higher. This year, uninsured people will be paying $325 or 2% of their annual household income. Some tax exemptions were available to consumers, but the deadline for these exemptions passed sometime ago.
Special enrollment period was launched to help people avoid tax penalties
The federal government chose to enact a special enrollment period for uninsured individuals because they many did not realize they would face tax penalties. Government officials believed that a lack of awareness concerning the tax penalties was a significant problem for consumers and offering them more time to purchase insurance coverage would help resolve the issue. Many of the people enrolling in federal exchanges are eligible for financial aid for the coverage that they purchase, which can help make health insurance policies more affordable.
Consumers will have to wait until the next open enrollment period to purchase coverage from exchanges
Now that the special enrollment period is over, consumers will have to wait until later this year to purchase coverage through insurance exchanges. During the fall, another open enrollment period will begin, running into the early months of 2016. This will give consumers another opportunity to purchase the health insurance coverage that they need.