Affordable Health Care sign up deadline a week away
The final sign-up deadline for a marketplace insurance plan under the Affordable Health Care Act is Monday, March 31. Coverage through the plans begins on May 1, and those who do not have insurance, whether through an employer, private group or through the Affordable Health Care Act, will have to pay a penalty of $95 per adult in the household or one percent of household income on income taxes next year.After March 31 the sign-up for 2014 is over unless there is a catastrophic event in a person’s life. These events include switching jobs, having a baby, moving out of state, or marriage. These events give a 60-day window of special enrollment.The deadline to sign up was extended after people had trouble accessing information and signing up online. So far five million Americans have enrolled in insurance plans through the marketplace.“This act has been a moving target,” said Merlin Rajala of Boulevard Financial in Tecumseh.The Obama Administration was hoping to have six million people enrolled, scaled back from original numbers of seven million people, by the deadline. Acceptable plans must cover “minimum essential benefits” including maternity, newborn care, emergency care and prescriptions.Not everyone has to sign up for an insurance plan in the marketplace, including those with acceptable coverage through an employer. Those enrolled in health care plans from before March 2010 are exempted as these plans have been grandfathered.Other groups exempted include most employers, individuals with COBRA benefits, and those on military plans. Medicare and Medicaid recipients are also excused from participating.Most states, including Michigan, allow anyone with income less than 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to be excused from purchasing insurance.The FPL is minimum income needed to supply basic needs of food, shelter and transportation. People below the FPL can usually qualify for other government assistance, and those who fall between 100 and 400 percent of the FPL qualify for tax credits to help pay for insurance in the marketplace.Plan sign-up can be through an insurance provider or done online at www.healthcare.gov/marketplace. The next sign-up for insurance begins in November 2014 for 2015 coverage.