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Penalty

When is this year’s open enrollment period?

To make sure you have health insurance for 2019, you have to enroll between November 1st, 2018 and December 15, 2018. If you miss the December 15th deadline, you could be locked out of health insurance until 2020 AND forced to pay 100% of your medical bills. It’s not worth the risk, especially when financial help is available (so most people can find a plan for $50 to $100).

In past years, the enrollment period was much longer. But the Trump administration is taking every effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and has cut this time in half. That means it’s more important than ever for you, your family, and your friends to know about the new deadline and your rights when it comes to health insurance and health care.

Is there a penalty for not having insurance?

Yes, for 2018, it’s the law to have health insurance. If you choose to go without coverage for more than three months in 2018, you may have to pay a penalty of either 2.5 percent of your income or $695, whichever is greater. You can find more information about the penalty here.

For many people, it is cheaper to enroll in health insurance—and have the peace of mind that comes from being covered—than it is to pay the penalty. This is because you may qualify for savings that lower your premiums if your income is between about $12,000 and $48,000. In fact, over 8 out of 10 people who enroll through healthcare.gov qualify for financial help, and most people find plans available for $75 or less per month.

You may be exempt from the penalty under certain circumstances. For example, you won’t have to pay a penalty if you’re uninsured for less than 3 months in a year or if you don’t file a tax return because your income is too low. If you think you might qualify, you can obtain a “certificate of exemption” from HealthCare.gov.

Starting in 2019, there is no federal penalty for being uninsured. This change will start with your 2019 taxes, which are filed in early 2020. But just because there’s no penalty doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. If you don’t have health insurance, an unexpected accident or illness could mean very high medical bills. That’s why we still encourage you to check out your health insurance options at HealthCare.gov. (Note that a few states – Massachusetts, New Jersey, and DC – have their own state individual mandates so you may face a penalty if you are uninsured and live in those states. Vermont will have its own individual mandate beginning in 2020.)

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