Open Enrollment ended on Feb. 15 for most Americans, but those who failed to purchase creditable health insurance in 2014 and are now being fined for not doing so will get one last chance to purchase insurance for 2015.
Those who claim they did not realize there would be a fine for not buying health insurance and who would like to avoid a fine twice as high for 2015, will be allowed to sign up for a health plan during a special enrollment period March 15 to April 30.
Covered California opened its Special Enrollment period Feb. 23 and it will also extend through April 30, so we can help those who live in California now and not have to wait until March 15 to do so.
The fines increase this year from a minimum of $95 per adult to $325 for an adult. Fines for children not having insurance this year are being raised from $47.50 per child last year to $162.50 per child this year. That is the minimum. It could be higher, based on your income. The fine was either the $95 or 1 percent of your gross adjusted income last year and that increases to 2 percent this year. The fine is for “whichever is greater.”
Those with qualifying life events can get a plan on the Federal Marketplace any time of the year, but there is a 60-day limit from the date you lose insurance or from the date you move into state, so anyone in those situations needs to take action as soon as possible after the change occurs.
Other qualifying life events include:
Getting married or divorced
Having a child, adopting a child, or placing a child for adoption
Have a change in income (20 percent or more)
Get health coverage through a job or a program like Medicare or Medicaid
Change your place of residence
Have a change in disability status
Gain or lose a dependent
Experience other changes that may affect your income and household size
Have a change in tax filing status; change of citizenship or immigration status; incarceration or release from incarceration; release from military service or a change in status as an American Indian/Alaska Native or tribal status; correction to name, date of birth, or Social Security number.
Those denied Medicaid or Child Health Insurance Plans (CHIP) are also allowed to go onto the exchange this year and get coverage within 60 days of the termination of coverage or the letter denying coverage.
Last year, simply applying for Medicaid or Nevada Check-up and being turned was not considered a life-changing event in Nevada. But on the Federal Marketplace – which is being used by Nevadans this year – it is considered a life-changing event.
If that happens or any of the above happens, you can turn to us at the Affordable Healthcare Pros at 2307 N. Carson Street in Carson City and apply for a plan on the Federal Marketplace. Our services are free of charge.
Businesses can also do a group plan for their employees any time during the year. If that happens, anyone on a Health Marketplace plan must take the offer of coverage from the employer if cost of their premium is no more than 9.5 percent of their income. If it is not, that will be allowed to stay on their Health Marketplace plan.
Ron Bliss is a former sports writer who has been selling health insurance for five years. Affordable Healthcare Pros is located at 2307 North Carson Street in Carson City. Those who need help with health plans – on and off the Marketplace or Medicare supplements – can contact them at 775-450-6769, 775-450-6867 or 775-450-7754. Bliss can also be reached at 775-224-7169. He is certified for Covered California, as well as the Nevada Health Link.