Paying the Obamacare penalty this tax season? New enrollment period in the offing for 2015 coverage

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Friday, Feb. 20, the Obama administration announced it would reopen the federally-facilitated insurance marketplaces associated with the Affordable Care Act March 15-April 30 for those learning this tax season that they would pay the penalty for not having compliant coverage in 2014.

State-run marketplaces in 14 states, including Hawaii and the District of Columbia, were expected to follow suit.

In order to take advantage of this new period, individuals “will have to attest that they first became aware of the tax penalty for lack of coverage when they filled out their taxes,” according to this National Public Radio report, and will remain responsible for the penalty, which for most truckers will be assessed at 1 percent of total 2014 modified adjusted gross income, as discussed in this prior report.

According to Overdrive polling over the year and a half since the ACA-enabled exchanges rolled out, a consistent third of operators have indicated willingness to remain uncovered in spite of penalties, which in effect double for most at 2 percent of income for not having coverage in 2015, rising again to 2.5 percent in 2016.

Obamacare health exchange listPrivate options geared specifically toward truckers like the Truckers Insurance Exchange and TrueNorth’s TrueChoices Marketplace will follow federal enrollment guidelines as well, and both will remain an option for compliant coverage during that period.

Marc Ballard of the TIE emphasized the exchange’s online partner, ConnectedHealth, is certified to sell from the exchanges, meaning the TIE enrollment engine can “facilitate the enrollment without sending them to healthcare.gov.” Capabilities for “plan sorting based on specific needs, recommendations and enrollment support” are available for those who qualify for a subsidy as well as those who don’t, he added. “This also means that anytime during the year that someone experiences a ‘qualifying event,’ like a spouse loses coverage from work, a move to another state, marriage, birth, etc. TIE can facilitate that enrollment as well.”

Operators can also utilize TrueChoices throughout the year if a qualifying event makes them eligible for enrollment, said Zenk.

“If we find out if somebody is subsidy-eligible, we help steer them toward the federal and state exchanges,” noted TrueNorth’s Bill Zenk. He added TrueChoices would be “open for business for the major medical piece in line directly with the way that the federal exchange works” for those who don’t qualify for a subsidy as well.

The exchange’s benefit advisors are also available “as an education conduit between open enrollment periods now to get folks ready for the 2016 period.”

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