5 Days Left to Get Health Insurance and Avoid a Fine

5 Days Left to Get Health Insurance and Avoid a Fine Photo (cc) by Parker Knight

Sunday is the deadline for those without health insurance to select coverage for 2016 through the federal government’s insurance exchange or a state equivalent.

These exchanges were established as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — the federal law also referred to as Obamacare — for people who are uninsured.

The Jan. 31 deadline — which the federal government recently reminded Americans of via its HealthCare.gov blog — applies to millions of Americans who do not have employer-based insurance or Medicaid and must purchase their own coverage.

Americans who have not obtained insurance by Jan. 31 generally have to wait another year to sign up for coverage and will face a penalty on their 2016 federal taxes unless they are exempt from the federal requirement to obtain insurance.

For people who go uninsured in 2016, that fine will be the greater of two amounts, according to HealthCare.gov:

  • Flat fee of $695 per adult and $347.50 per child (up from $325 per adult and $162.50 per child for people who went uninsured in 2015). The maximum size of this penalty is $2,085.
  • 2.5 percent of household income (up from 2 percent for people who went uninsured this year). The maximum size of this penalty is an amount equivalent to the yearly premium for the national average price of a Bronze plan, the cheapest plan available through the federal health insurance exchange.

An analysis released last month by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation showed, however, that the average fee levied on people who fail to buy health insurance for 2016 is projected to rise 47 percent to nearly $1,000 per household.

For more help in enrolling for health coverage, call the Marketplace call center — which is open 24 hours a day.

For additional information, don’t miss “Obamacare Open Enrollment Is Coming: 5 Things You Need to Know.”

Have you obtained insurance through the federal exchange or a state equivalent? Tell us about your experience below or on our Facebook page.

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