March 9, 2015

Affordable Care Act enrollment to reopen March 15

The Obama administration is providing additional time to uninsured U.S. citizens to sign up for the Affordable Care Act to avoid a new tax penalty for not having insurance. The special six-week enrollment period will run from March 15 to April 30.

As reported in The Hill:

ObamaCare enrollment to reopen

The Obama administration will hold a second enrollment period for the federal insurance exchanges this year to give people a chance to avoid a new tax penalty for going without insurance.

The enrollment period will run from March 15 to April 30, at the height of tax filing season, officials said.

Congressional Democrats and advocacy groups had been pushing for the new enrollment period, arguing that millions of people are still unaware of the penalty and should be able to sign up for health insurance once they learn of it.

"Our intention in doing this is not to increase numbers for numbers sake, it's to make sure that if there were people who were unaware of the fee that they aren't disadvantaged by that," Andy Slavitt, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' deputy administrator, said on a call with reporters.

Numbers for the first sign-up period, which ended Sunday, were better than expected, with 11.4 million people enrolled in the program.

The administration estimates that up to 6 million people could be forced to pay the fine for not having insurance during this year's tax season, which marks the first time that the penalty will be in effect. Officials said that they do not have an estimate for how many people they expect to take advantage of the new enrollment period.

People signing up now will still have to pay a penalty for lacking insurance in 2014. Anyone who was uninsured last year will be hit with penalties of either $95 or 1 percent of their income — whichever is higher. That fine will spike this year to $325 or 2 percent of their income.


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