Note to HealthBeat readers: I have recently begun writing posts about healthcare and healthcare reform for Consumer Reports. Below, an excerpt from my latest post. M.M
It’s still not too late to sign up for insurance in your state’s marketplace. Open enrollment for Obamacare continues until Feb. 15. Meet that deadline, and you will be insured on March 1, with no penalty.
And if the plan you purchased in 2014 was automatically renewed on Jan. 1, you can still change your mind, comparison shop, and pick a new policy in February. There are lots of good reasons to shop around, as plans change from year to year.
Even better news: It’s not too late to apply for a tax credit that can help slash premiums. This year, nearly 9 out of 10 people who purchased insurance in state marketplaces have qualified for financial assistance. Last year, tax credits cut the average premium by 76 percent—to just $82 per month. Almost half of those who received subsidies wound up paying $50 or less. See if you might qualify for a subsidy.
Who has to pay fines?
Even if you don’t have insurance in January and February, you won’t have to pay a fine as long as you have health insurance in place by March 1.
How much will you owe? Compare penalties to premiums in your zip code
Turbotax has created an online calculator that tallies the fine if you don’t buy insurance by Feb. 15.
To compare the fine to the cost of coverage, after subsidies, use the Kaiser Family Foundation’ premium calculator.
You will find links to both when you read the rest of this post on Consumer Reports.org.