This post was originally written by Kristin Shaw and posted on H&R Block’s blog site. You can see the original post here.
We’ve been telling you since November that you need to have health insurance coverage and/ or enroll in a Marketplace health care plan. Otherwise, you could face a hefty penalty when you file your 2015 taxes next year.
By now, you’ve missed the deadline to get a plan through a federal or state Marketplace because you needed to enroll before February 15th.
The good news is that you have a few options.
If You Haven’t Filed Your 2014 Tax Return
Last week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a special enrollment period between March 15th and April 30th for a select group of people. You might be able to enroll in a Marketplace health care plan during this time if:
1. You file your 2014 tax return after February 15, 2015
2. You aren’t enrolled in coverage through a federally-facilitated Marketplace for 2015
3. When you filed your 2014 tax return, you paid the fee for not having health coverage in 2014
4. You attest that you first became aware of, or understood the implications of, this penalty after the end of open enrollment on February 15th, in connection with preparing your 2014 tax return
You can find out if you are eligible at healthcare.gov.
Special Enrollment Period
If you have a qualifying life event, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. These life events include:
1. Getting married or divorced
2. Having a baby
4. Changing jobs
5. Gaining membership in a federally recognized tribe
Basically, if your life changes in such a way that you find that you need new or different health insurance coverage, you may become eligible to enroll in a Marketplace plan outside of the set open enrollment period (November 15th – February 15th). However, this special enrollment period only lasts for 60 days following the qualifying life event. So don’t delay!
Private Health Insurance Plan
Alternatively, you have the option to enroll in a private health insurance plan that meets the requirement for minimum essential coverage. This means that you will avoid paying a penalty.
However, you cannot purchase this private plan through a Marketplace, and they aren’t always easy to find. You can locate and choose these plans through some insurance companies, agents, brokers, and online health insurance sellers. If you opt to purchase one of these private plans outside of the Marketplace, you will not be able to get a premium tax credit to help you pay the monthly premium amount.
The key is to make absolutely sure that the private plan that you select will qualify as minimum essential coverage. Not all health insurance plans meet this requirement.