Health Care

Deadline arrives for Obamacare coverage that starts Jan. 1

The deadline is Tuesday for consumers to enroll in a health plan with coverage that begins on Jan. 1. In this photograph, Madelaine Carrazana 46, discusses Obamacare plans with insurance agent Arturo Aguiar at the Univista Insurance agency branch on Flagler Street in February 2015.
The deadline is Tuesday for consumers to enroll in a health plan with coverage that begins on Jan. 1. In this photograph, Madelaine Carrazana 46, discusses Obamacare plans with insurance agent Arturo Aguiar at the Univista Insurance agency branch on Flagler Street in February 2015. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Tuesday is the last day to sign up for coverage that begins on New Year’s Day for consumers who buy their health plan through the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange at healthcare.gov.

Open enrollment began Nov. 1 runs through January. During the first five weeks of enrollment, nearly 600,000 Floridians had signed up for a plan — more than any of the 38 states using the federal platform, according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For 2016, the financial penalty will increase for eligible individuals who fail to sign up. Under the health law, the penalty will be the greater of $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of income.

The penalty applies to all individuals who are not exempted because they either don’t make enough income to file taxes – for single people in 2014, that was $10,150 — or could not find coverage that cost less than 8.05 percent of their annual income.

There is a fail-safe for consumers who were enrolled in 2015: the ACA exchange will automatically re-enroll them into the most similar plan “soon after Dec. 15,” said Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which operates healthcare.gov, in a teleconference with reporters.

Consumers who miss Tuesday’s deadline will have until Jan. 15 to pick a plan that starts coverage on Feb. 1. A list of South Florida health centers, hospitals and other locations where consumers can find in-person assistance with enrollment is available online at localhelp.healthcare.gov.

Daniel Chang: 305-376-2012, @dchangmiami

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