Fined on your income taxes for no health insurance in 2014? You can still enroll for 2015 until Apri

Avoid paying the full fine for 2015 and see if you can enroll for Marketplace health insurance by April 30. You may receive help paying for your coverage.

Unfortunately, some folks found out they owed a fine for not having health insurance when they did their 2014 income taxes. Too many people do not know this: If you do not have health insurance, you might have to pay a fine when you do your taxes. If that includes you, you might have until April 30 to get covered through the Health Insurance Marketplace. In 2015, the fine will double for not having coverage.

During this Special Enrollment Period until April 30, Healthcare.gov Marketplace will include a new two-part question asking applicants to attest that they first became aware of (or understood the meaning of) the requirement to have health care coverage after the end of Open Enrollment on February 15. If a consumer selects “Yes” to both of these questions on the application, and is not currently enrolled in coverage, he or she will be able to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, and then be able to select a plan.

Nearly 9 in 10 people who got covered got help paying for it, according to Get Covered America. To estimate how much financial help you could qualify for, go use this calculator.

My January 15 article discussed the 2014 penalty. The penalty for no 2015 coverage increases. You will be paying the higher of these two amounts:

  • Two percent of your yearly household income. (Only the amount of income above the tax filing threshold, about $10,000 for an individual, is used to calculate the penalty.) The maximum penalty is the national average premium for a bronze plan.
  • $325 per person for the year ($162.50 per child under 18). The maximum penalty per family using this method is $975.

In 2016, it will be 2.5 percent of income or $695 per person, whichever is higher.

It is important to remember that choosing to pay the penalty for not having health insurance coverage, instead of purchasing minimum essential coverage, means you will also have to pay the entire cost of all your medical care. You won’t be protected from the kind of very high medical bills that can sometimes lead to bankruptcy.

If you are uninsured for just part of the year, 1/12 of the yearly penalty applies to each month you are uninsured. If you are uninsured for less than 3 months, you do not have to make a payment.

For more information or assistance, visit HealthCare.gov, or call the Health Insurance Marketplace call center at 1-800‑318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. You can find local application assisters at localhelp.healthcare.gov or Enroll Michigan or some private insurance companies with plans in the Marketplace.

For more answers to your questions about health insurance, go to healthcare.gov Q&A or the Health Insurance FAQs - eXtension.

Michigan State University Extension is providing education about health insurance basics this year, including the why, what and how for making a smart decision. Find out about Smart Choice: Health Insurance workshops and factual information at http://aca.msue.msu.edu .

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