Key Deadline Looms For HealthCare.gov

Jan 14, 2016

Jan. 15 is the last day to sign up on HealthCare.gov for a plan that starts Feb. 1.  The deadline is key for avoiding tax penalties under the federal health law.

"If they go more than two months without coverage, they will have to pay a penalty for every month they go without coverage,” said Jodi Ray, who oversees Affordable Care Act navigators across Florida. "This tax penalty is going to be expensive. They should expect it if they choose not to enroll into coverage."

She said many consumers were surprised last year when they had to pay a tax penalty for going without a health plan.

Under the federal health law, the penalty for going without insurance in 2016 is increasing to $695, or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater.

Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31.

Florida is leading in sign-ups, with almost 1.6 million who have enrolled so far on HealthCare.gov. The majority are returning customers.

"When people go on to HealthCare.gov and put their income, family size and zip code, they can quickly find out what type of tax credits they are eligible for, so it makes it affordable,” said HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan.

Most Floridians who have signed up for a health plan through the federal marketplace are getting tax credits that lower the monthly premiums, according to federal health officials.

Lottie Watts is a reporter and producer with WUSF in Tampa. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.