Get covered by Valentine's Day to avoid fines

To successfully meet March 31 deadline, Americans must send in health insurance application by mid-February
Associated Press
Oct 10, 2013

You'll have to get coverage by Valentine's Day or thereabouts to avoid penalties for being uninsured, the Obama administration confirmed Wednesday.

That's about six weeks earlier than a March 31 deadline often cited previously.

The explanation: health insurance coverage typically starts on the first day of a given month, and it takes up to 15 days to process applications.

You still have to be covered by March 31 to avoid the new penalties for remaining uninsured. But to successfully accomplish that you have to send in your application by the middle of February. Coverage would then start on Mar. 1.

The Jackson Hewitt tax preparation company first pointed out the wrinkle with the health care law's least popular requirement.

An administration official confirmed it. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and insisted on anonymity.

It's the latest bit of confusion involving complex requirements of President Barack Obama's health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act.

Adjustments to the law have ranged from the momentous to the mundane. The biggest one was a one-year delay of a requirement that larger employers offer coverage, announced this summer. More recently, the administration has postponed some Spanish-language capabilities of its enrollment website, as well as full functionality on the site small businesses use to sign up.

Brian Haile, senior vice president for health policy at Jackson Hewitt, said government agencies initially had different interpretations of the enrollment deadline. The Health and Human Services department, which is taking the lead in implementing the law, kept referring to a March 31 deadline. But the Internal Revenue Service, which handles most of the financial aspects, suggested that the deadline had to be in February.

"There were inconsistencies," said Haile, adding it took several inquiries by Jackson Hewitt over the last few weeks to clear up the uncertainty.

The health care law was designed to cover the uninsured through a mix of government-subsidized private insurance and a major expansion of the Medicaid safety net program.

The rollout of online insurance markets this month has been snarled by technical glitches that frustrated many consumers. Meanwhile, House Republicans are still pressing their demand for a delay of "Obamacare" provisions, if not its total repeal, as a condition for lifting the partial government shutdown now in its second week.

Starting next year, the law requires virtually all Americans to have insurance or face a tax penalty, triggered after a coverage gap of three months. The penalty starts as low as $95 for 2014, but escalates in subsequent years. There are exemptions for financial hardship and other defined circumstances.

The purpose of the penalty is to nudge as many people as possible into the insurance pool. That would help keep premiums in check, since the law also forbids insurers from turning away people with health problems.

Haile said an earlier enrollment deadline around Valentine's Day may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the administration, because it creates a natural opportunity to market to young, healthy people, whose premiums are needed to offset medical costs of older generations.

"When thinking about how to attract young people, a Valentine's Day message may be very salient," he said.

The administration says the deadline is actually Feb. 15, the day after Valentine's Day.

That's close enough that the government might be able to make the pitch work.


Stop It

That link is some good stuff. I totally agree with it. Amazing that I even remotely agree with a pundit, mind ya.

KURTje many pay for your Medicaid & SSI? Plenty.


Do any of you moron liberals here ever inform yourself? odumbocare is a nightmare, go to the facebook page and see what Americans are saying! LOL! They hate it and 17 out of 20 people are saying F you Sebelius, F you obama, come and get me, I ain't signing up for crap. Without all those healthy uninsured signing up and paying the outrageous premiums then double fail. There is a class action suit against the "tax",, Taxes can only originate in the House, and obamacare was passed in the Senate. Go there sign up and fight.


You are an idiot. Time to shut off Rush Limbag/Fox Snooze and you try getting informed.

Dr. Information

time to step out of the litter box meow. its called reality.


obamacare was passed in the Senate before it was passed in the House. The House didn't allow any amendments so it would not be sent back to the Senate for it to be reconciled and sent again to the Senate. Because the dimocraps lost the House in the election and lost the supermajority It would not have passed had that happened. The dimocraps turned themselves inside out and bucked under to every dim senator as to promises for goodies they would recieve later. It is how the dumb and dumber parties operate. The parties buy their politicians. The dumb and dumber politicians don't represent the people, they represent the dumb and dumber parties.


The ones that won't sign up are the ones the rest of us are already paying for.

Stop It

You started paying for that as soon as you received your SS card #.