Help! I didn’t know there was a penalty for not having insurance

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By Geraldine Slevin on Monday, March 9th, 2015

If you didn’t realize there was a penalty for not having insurance in 2014 until you did your taxes this year and want to avoid paying a penalty again next year, you can still sign up for health insurance in most states. You’ll have to pay any penalty you may owe for not having insurance in 2014 (unless you qualify for an exemption), but you can avoid making the same mistake for 2015.

People living in states that use the federal Exchange (Healthcare.gov) who weren’t aware of the penalty or didn’t understand the implications of the fee for not enrolling in coverage, can sign up for 2015 coverage between March 15th and April 30th.

You can find the full announcement for the federal Exchange here. If you qualify for this special enrollment period, starting March 15th, you can sign up by visiting Healthcare.gov.

This special enrollment period also applies for some states with their own Exchanges, so check with your state Exchange to find out whether yours has this special enrollment period. So far, California, New York, Maryland, Minnesota, Vermont, and Washington have created special enrollment periods for people who didn’t know about the tax penalty. Dates for these special enrollment periods may vary – for example, Californians who didn’t know about the penalty can enroll from now until April 30th.

There are also special enrollment periods available for people whose circumstances change mid-year. If you lose your health coverage, become a citizen, get married, have a baby, move, or experience another qualifying event, you’ll have a chance to enroll or change plans.  Several new special enrollment periods will go into effect in April, including for consumers who experience a divorce or legal separation or other qualifying events.

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