Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act starts Oct. 1

Published: Sep. 26, 2013 at 3:04 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2013 at 3:04 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Open enrollment for health insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act will start next week and many still have questions about health coverage.

Officials say in order to have coverage by the beginning of the year consumers need to enroll by Dec. 15, however, open enrollment will go on through March.

Alicia Jacobs with the Benefit Bank says it takes about a month from the enrollment date for the coverage to take effect.

When enrolling, whether it's through the online marketplace or in person with a counselor, there is certain information to have on hand.

"The two main things they are going to need to know is what their income is and their household composition," Jacobs says. "So I would recommend individuals get a pay stub or check to have with them just so they can clearly and accurately enter their income and then they need to know their tax dependents."

Those who do not enroll for health coverage will receive a penalty federal income tax deduction.

"There are opportunities for people to enroll outside open enrollment with special circumstances like loss of a job or getting married or having a baby," Jacobs says. "When they have a qualifying life event, they can enroll outside of the enrollment period."

But Jacobs says to take full advantage of the cost savings, it's more beneficial to enroll during the open enrollment period starting Oct 1.

Subsidies are available that may help pay for coverage.

You can find out if you're eligible by meeting with a counselor at the benefit bank or another agency handling enrollment.

Who doesn't have to pay a penalty
Uninsured people won't have to pay a penalty if they:

  • are uninsured for less than 3 months of the year
  • are determined to have very low income and coverage is considered unaffordable
  • are not required to file a tax return because their income is too low would qualify under the new income limits for Medicaid, but their state has chosen not to expand Medicaid eligibility
  • are a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe
  • participate in a health care sharing ministry
  • are a member of a recognized religious sect with religious objections to health insurance

If you don't qualify for these situations, you can apply for an exemption asking not to pay a fee.

To get more information about enrollment for the Affordable Care Act or schedule an appointment with a counselor you can contact the Benefit Bank at: 1-800-726-8774.

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