WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) — As people scramble to meet the Tuesday deadline for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, they are also faced with another type of pressure: a steep penalty for ignoring the insurance mandate.
For those who want healthcare coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2016, or to continue their 2015 coverage, they must sign up by Tuesday. Those who haven’t signed up by Jan. 31, 2016, run the risk of fines on their 2016 taxes.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the average tax penalty will increase to $969, or nearly double from the previous year. The penalties are estimated at 2.5 percent of family income or up to $695 for individuals.
Kevin Counihan, CEO of the federal insurance exchange HealthCare.gov, said the high fines may encourage people who didn’t have insurance before to shop around before deciding to skip coverage.
“It got people’s attention,” he said. “And there seemed to be more of a discussion in their head about whether it made sense to pay the penalty and not get something for it.”