The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today a special enrollment period for individuals and families who did not have health coverage in 2014 and are subject to the fee or “shared responsibility payment” when they file their 2014 taxes in states which use the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). This special enrollment period will allow those individuals and families who were not aware of or didn’t understand the implications of this new requirement to enroll in 2015 health insurance coverage through the FFM.
The extended opportunity to purchase health insurance coverage is only for those who were unaware of or didn’t understand the implications of the fee for not enrolling in coverage. The special enrollment period will open up March 15 and run through April 30. If consumers do not purchase coverage for 2015 during this special enrollment period, they may have to pay a penalty when they file their 2015 taxes, unless they qualify for a health coverage exemption.
According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), Wyoming has only captured about 32% of the estimated potential 2015 Marketplace enrollees. KFF estimated there were around 65,000 potential 2015 Marketplace enrollees, of those, 21,148 had enrolled in a plan as of the close of the Marketplace on February 15th. This means there is still a large enrollment gap in Wyoming and now there is an opportunity for the folks who fall in this gap to get enrolled and avoid another tax penalty for 2015.
Those eligible for this special enrollment period live in states with a Federally-facilitated Marketplace, which does include Wyoming. Other requirements for eligibility include:
• Currently are not enrolled in coverage through the FFM for 2015
• Attest that when they filed their 2014 tax return they paid the fee for not having health coverage in 2014
• Attest that they first became aware of, or understood the implications of, the Shared Responsibility Payment after the end of open enrollment (February 15, 2015) in connection with preparing their 2014 taxes.
It is expected that many Wyomingites will be surprised when they file their taxes and find they will incur a penalty. Wyomingites who do not qualify for an exemption and went without health coverage in 2014 will pay a fee of $95 per adult or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater. In 2015, this fee will increase to $325 per adult or 2% of income. In 2016, this fee will increase again to $695 per adult or 2.5% of income. After that, the fee is adjusted for inflation. The fee will be assessed on the federal income tax return for the year individuals do not have coverage.
With the news of the special enrollment period, WINhealth is strongly urging Wyomingites who do not yet have coverage for 2015 to take a look at their options.
WINhealth’s President and CEO, Stephen Goldstone, reminds shoppers, “You have options when it comes to shopping and enrolling. You can enroll through healthcare.gov, or you can skip the hassle and enroll through WINhealth’s direct enrollment portal by visiting winhealth.softheon.com. Navigators and brokers are also available as a third party option to assist you in the enrollment process. There are a wealth of resources available to walk you through the process and answer all of your questions.”
Tracy Brosius and her team of Navigators and Certified Application Counselors will be ready and willing to help those taking advantage of the special enrollment period. Enroll Wyoming Navigators can be reached by calling Wyoming’s health and services information and referral system, 2-1-1.
If consumers decide going through a broker is the best option for them, a list of preferred brokers can be found at winhealthplans.com/shop-plans/broker-directory. Shoppers will not incur any additional costs by going through a broker, the cost is the same no matter which method shoppers use – navigators, brokers, direct enrollment through WINhealth, or healthcare.gov.
If you have any questions, please contact WINhealth's media contact, Caitlin Rooney, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-773-1337.