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If you’re still confused about the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate and its tax implications, you’re not alone. According to a recent study, about 45 percent of uninsured Americans say they are totally or somewhat unaware of the ACA individual mandate that requires everyone to have health insurance coverage or pay a tax penalty. And that’s no surprise. The complex health care law and its seemingly endless provisions are enough to make anyone’s head spin.

With tax season now upon us, many North Carolinians will not realize they owe a penalty for not having health insurance until they file their 2014 tax return in the coming weeks.

But because of a special enrollment extension from the federal government, you can get covered and avoid paying the tax penalty next year. This one-time extension will allow those who missed open enrollment this year to purchase coverage for 2015 beginning on March 15 through April 30.

Find out if you’re eligible to enroll

This special enrollment period is open to those who:

    • Do not currently have health insurance for 2015
    • Owe or have paid the tax penalty for not having coverage in 2014
    • Confirm that they only learned about the individual mandate penalty when filing taxes this year

The cost of not having coverage

Aside from the risk of having to pay unexpected medical expenses out of pocket, the tax penalties for not having health insurance have increased since last year and will increase again each year through 2016. By applying for and enrolling in coverage for 2015, you can avoid having to pay the tax penalty when you file your 2015 tax return.

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Photo credit: Fiscal Times, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/02/20/Obamacare-Tax-Mandate-Forces-Deadline-Extension

 Next steps

If you still have questions about this special enrollment period or you’re ready to sign up for coverage, you should:

1. Explore your options for health insurance plans

2. Check your eligibility for subsidies1

3. Shop online at healthcare.gov or contact a local insurance agent

4. Get a free rate quote and apply for coverage

(1)  Actual subsidy eligibility and amounts can only be determined by the federal government. See www.healthcare.gov for more detail

About James LaCorte

James LaCorte is a Social Media Manager and has been employed with BCBSNC since 2003. He has built his career working in a variety of areas across the company. When not working you can find him kayaking a local river, photographing a nature scene, or running around with his family.