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The February 15 Enrollment Deadline for 2015 Health Insurance Coverage under California Covered is Around the Corner

Tax Penalties for Failure to Obtain Insurance in 2015 Can Bite

February 15 is the deadline for enrolling for health insurance through Covered California in 2015. With certain exceptions for low income individuals and families, you are required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to have health insurance. Failure to obtain insurance in 2015 can result in "healthy" (pardon the pun) tax penalties. For example, a family of four earning $70,000 in 2015 can expect to shoulder a "shared responsibility payment" of almost $1,000 at tax time next year if it remains uninsured throughout 2015. The tax penalty will rise to nearly $2,000 for a similarly situated family in 2016. Thus failure to obtain health insurance subjects you to a double whammy -- you won't have health insurance coverage if illness or injury strikes you or your family in 2015, and you will pay a tax penalty for failing to obtain coverage. In most cases, that is not the smart way to go. 

You Must Act Quickly if you want to Benefit from ACA Subsidies this Year

The good news is that you can take advantage of the ACA to obtain subsidies for your health care premiums if you qualify based upon your income - and if you obtain your insurance through Covered California by February 15. The amount of the subsidy you are eligible for depends upon your income (generally, the lower your income the greater the subsidy), but assistance is available even for a family of four with income of $94,000. 

There are a few exceptions to the February 15 deadline; for example, for persons who change or lose jobs, persons moving into the state, and a few other similar situations in which circumstances have changed. But for most Californians, February 15 is a true deadline. And please do not wait until the last minute to start the process! The application materials are reasonably streamlined and easy to access, but it does take some time to gather the material you need to complete the applications. Just as importantly, there are a number of different insurance programs to choose from - with different coverages, premiums, co-pays and deductibles. To make an intelligent decision on the coverage that is best for you and your family, allow yourself some time to examine and weigh all of your options. 

To get started, visit the Covered California website, or contact an Covered California Certified Agent like me. 

Alex Pfeifer
Pfeifer Insurance Brokers
650 762-8070
alex@pfeiferins.com
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