In a meeting just recently, Covered California has elected to extend the open enrollment period, which ended on January 31, 2020. This new special enrollment period will allow anyone, not just those who would generally qualify for special enrollment, to enroll in health insurance plans until the end of April. Policies will be effective April 1, if you enroll on or before March 15. Or, the policy will be effective May 1, if you enroll between March 16 and April 30. This means that instead of waiting until the new enrollment period of October 2020, anyone in California who does not currently have health insurance can sign up through the healthcare system.
Why This is Important to You
If you do not have health insurance coverage right now, you could be at risk for a fine on your taxes for the 2020 year. California has elected to enact a penalty for all of those who do not have health care coverage during the 2020 year. When you file your taxes in 2021, you will be required to pay a total of $695 per adult or 2.5% of your annual income, whichever is higher, in fees for not having the required health insurance coverage (separate fees apply for families and children).
If you do not currently have health insurance, you should consider applying for a policy during this new enrollment period. No one will be exempt from the fee if a policy is not selected and paid for by the new April deadline. This means that you could be paying a large amount of money for not having the required coverage, or you can get help to sign up now and get the coverage that you need to protect yourself and your family.
It is important that you reach out to an insurance rep if you do not currently have a health insurance plan to take advantage of this new period and take up the opportunity to sign up for a new plan in order to avoid the penalties that will otherwise be imposed.
Who is Eligible?
All those who did not know about the fee/penalty for not having healthcare coverage over the 2020 year (known as the Individual Shared Responsibility Penalty) are eligible for this enrollment period. Likewise, anyone who previously purchased an off-exchange plan but has now determined that they would like to buy an on-exchange plan will be eligible to do so during this enrollment period. Effectively, everyone in California is eligible and may choose to purchase a plan through the exchange without a penalty or any of the named exemptions that would typically allow for a Special Enrollment Period.
Why This Period is Available
Covered California has chosen to reopen the enrollment period for California residents because of the new fees that are being imposed. Information about the new fees that will be levied against residents on your 2020 taxes were explained, however, they feel that the explanation was not sufficient and too many people within the region do not realize that they could be at risk of being charged these fees on their taxes in the coming year. As a result, Covered California has decided to give all residents another chance to get enrolled and avoid paying fees.
Also, Covered California felt that the enrollment numbers were far lower than what was expected for this year, especially with the implementation of the enrollment requirement and the penalty for lack of 2020 coverage. As a result, and because of the penalty to be imposed, they have decided to allow more people the opportunity to enroll in the plan. If you have not yet enrolled you should seek out help to take advantage of this period to make sure that your family has coverage for the 2020 year and that you will not be required to pay the penalty. If you do not select coverage, there is no exemption for this penalty for 2020
What You Need to Do
You should contact your current insurance agent (or, if you don’t have one, reach out to us) and work with them to enroll in healthcare coverage as soon as possible. This enrollment period is set to last only until April 30, 2020. If, however, you choose not to take advantage of this special enrollment period, you will likely be charged fees of $695 per adult or 2.5% of your annual income for not being enrolled in a required healthcare plan.
Make sure that you are looking into a healthcare plan as soon as possible that will provide you with the type of coverage that you and your family needs for the 2020 year. These plans can be purchased through Covered California. They will provide you with at least the level of coverage required to avoid a penalty under the new individual mandate enacted by California for the 2020 tax year. If you do not purchase a plan through Covered California, you may be held liable for the penalty
How This Enrollment Period is Different
This Special Enrollment Period is different from a standard one because it is available to all residents of California. A normal Special Enrollment Period is available only to those who meet specific guidelines. Those who have lost their group coverage moved to a new state, lost coverage because they no longer qualify for Medi-Cal, and other similar situations are eligible to enroll in health insurance at any time under a Special Enrollment Period. This one, however, has been enacted by Covered California.
Covered California has determined that every resident of California who does not currently have a health insurance plan and health insurance coverage for the 2020 year is eligible to enroll right now. Please note that this is only available until April 30, 2020. Those who do not enroll during this period will be charged the penalty when you file your 2020 taxes in the coming year.
Feel free to reach out to us to get a healthcare plan that works for you. We can help you find out more about the different insurance options and which plan will be best for you and your family. Even more importantly, you will be able to avoid any penalties on your 2020 taxes while keeping your family protected.
For all of your health insurance inquiries and concerns, do not hesitate to contact us at Bernardini and Donovan. We are here to advise the health insurance requirements of yourself, your family, and your small business. Contact us today for expert counsel!