Although the open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace ended on February 15, a special enrollment period will be available March 15 through April 30 for individuals who did not have health coverage in 2014 and are subject to the fee or “shared responsibility payment” when they file their 2014 taxes.
Retaining health insurance is mandatory for most people under the Affordable Care Act. This year’s tax season is the first time individuals and families are asked to provide basic information regarding their health coverage on their tax returns. Consumers who did not qualify for a fee exemption and went without health coverage in 2014 will have to pay a penalty of $95 per adult, or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater, when they file their taxes this year. The fee increases to $325 per adult or 2% of income for 2015.
“March and April are important months for individuals to get covered and stay covered,” says Danielle Coterel, navigator program manager with Covering Kids and Families. “Many consumers remain unaware of enrollment deadlines or don’t understand insurance payment processes. The Milwaukee Enrollment Network members are working to assure that all those who are eligible for a Marketplace special enrollment, as well as BadgerCare Plus, get the help they need signing up.”
Individuals enrolled in BadgerCare Plus need to complete an annual renewal to retain their coverage and make sure they are getting the correct benefit. More than 31,000 Milwaukeeans will need to renew their coverage in BadgerCare Plus this spring. Adults with income below 100% of the federal poverty level ($11,670 per year for an individual) and children and pregnant women in households with income under 300% of the poverty level ($71,550 for a family of 4) are eligible for BadgerCare Plus.
Marketplace special enrollment periods are also be available for consumers who encounter key life events that may affect their coverage, such as losing their jobs, having a baby or getting married. To find free, in-person help in signing up for health insurance coverage, consumers should dial 2-1-1.
Walk-in enrollment assistance will also be available at Community Advocates, 728 N. James Lovell Avenue in Milwaukee every Thursday between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm through April 30.
The Milwaukee Enrollment Network reminds consumers to be prepared when signing up for healthcare coverage. Whether visiting healthcare.gov or calling 1-800-318-2596, consumers should have the following information about themselves and their household:
– social security numbers or document numbers for legal immigrants
– employer and income information for every person in the home who needs coverage (from pay stubs or W-2 forms)
– policy numbers for any current health insurance plans covering members of the household