By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — March 31st is the deadline for Americans to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
The Obama administration says over 5 million people have signed up so far.
It has been almost six months since the rocky launch of the http://www.Healthcare.gov website, but open enrollment is coming to an end. According to Nancy O’Connor, Regional Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “March 31st is the deadline; we’re not extending the deadline.”
That means that if you haven’t already purchased it on your own or don’t already have health insurance coverage through your employer or a labor union and aren’t covered by Medicare or Medicaid, then you need to take action.
“If you don’t have health insurance coverage and you can afford to purchase health insurance coverage, then you will be penalized after March 31st,” O’Connor explains.
The penalty is $95 per person or one percent of a household’s yearly income, whichever amount is greater. According to O’Connor, “People are focusing on the $95, and I think people will be surprised they fall within the penalty of one percent of household income.”
It’s estimated that 83% of those signing up for insurance have been eligible for a tax credits and subsidies to reduce their costs. But those credits are only available if you enroll through the http://www.Healthcare.gov website.
A toll free number has been set up to help people that don’t have internet access or need help finding a local office where they can sit down and get enrolled. That number is 1-800-318-2596.
If you need help, don’t wait. One-hundred-thirty-thousand calls came in over the weekend, and the site saw more than four million visits last week.