Time is running out for uninsured Americans to sign up for health coverage or face a penalty for not having insurance. March 31 is the last day to sign up under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Unfortunately, the very people the law is intended to help are seemingly the most oblivious about Obamacare and its impending deadline. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found the following about the uninsured:
- About 50 percent said they still don’t understand how the ACA will impact their families.
- When it comes to the health insurance marketplaces, 37 percent say they know very little or nothing at all about them.
- Only 24 percent are aware of the March 31 deadline.
- 5 percent thought the deadline had already passed.
- 2 percent of the uninsured polled didn’t know there was a set deadline to sign up for coverage.
If you want insurance coverage that starts on April 1, The Associated Press said it’s important to submit an application by March 15. Applications submitted later in the month will likely have a coverage start date in May.
After March 31, you will be unable to enroll in an individual health insurance plan unless you experience a life change, like a new job or adding a new family member. Purchasing individual health insurance through a state or federal online marketplace is the only way to become eligible for a federal subsidy to help people afford the premiums.
Missing the March 31 open enrollment deadline will impact your pocketbook. You will face a tax penalty of $95 or 1 percent of your taxable annual income, whichever is greater.
“The penalty is pro-rated if people have coverage for part of the year, and they won’t be liable if they lack coverage for less than a three-month period during the year,” CNN Money says.
In other Obamacare-related news, the uninsured rate is on track to drop to its lowest level since 2008, before President Obama took office.
About 15.9 percent of Americans are now uninsured, compared with 17.1 percent at the end of 2013. That’s the latest from a new Gallup poll, which found that the uninsured rate has dropped for nearly every major demographic group in 2014, except those 65 and older (who are eligible for Medicare).
African-Americans and low-income adults have experienced the most significant drop, with a 2 percent decline. Hispanics are the least likely to have health insurance, with a 37.9 percent uninsured rate.