Hot Topics in Health Care: Obamacare Enrollment Extended
The White House issued a guidance granting a six week extension of time, until March 31, for Americans to sign up for health care insurance, thereby avoiding the individual mandate penalty. This was in response to the public outcry over the ongoing health care exchange technical problems. The health care law, as currently written, levies a fine on those who are required to sign up for health insurance by Feb. 15, 2014, with the insurance starting by March 31, 2014.
The administration made it clear that this is a one-time hardship extension or grace period that applies only to the 2014 deadline. There will be no additional paperwork to qualify for the extension.
Those who are not covered and do not fall into an exception, must now have health insurance by March 31, to avoid a fine. Since it often takes a few weeks from the time you sign up for insurance to obtain coverage, someone who signs up for insurance on March 16, which is technically within the grace period, would not obtain coverage until April 1, which then would create a penalty for non-coverage.
The moral of the story is: Sign up early.
Many Americans are calling for further delay of one year in order to obtain health insurance, without fines. It will be interesting to watch and see what will happen if the technical problems persist.
Good News For Medicare Beneficiaries
The Medicare Part B premium, which is used by most seniors to pay for physician and outpatient care, will remain at $104.90 per month in 2014. Monthly premiums paid by upper income beneficiaries, those individuals with income greater than $85,000 per year or $170,000 for married couples, will also stay the same.
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