As Affordable Care Act deadline hits, fines are next - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

As Affordable Care Act deadline hits, fines are next

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Tuesday morning marks the deadline for people to sign up for insurance using healthcare.gov, if they don't already have insurance.

The midnight deadline was marked with technical issues Monday as the website was once again forced to shut-down for a period of time.

That didn't stop dozens from coming out to the Charleston County library in downtown Charleston to get help signing up for healthcare plans. Representatives from the Palmetto Project were on-hand helping people to pick the best plans for them.

Monday marked the first time Evalina Hogan was able to get a health care plan since she lost her job last May.

"It was very scary," Hogan said. "It was very scary because it's like 'where do I go?' It makes it very difficult to try to go to a hospital or clinic or anything."

Organizers said they hope others have been as pro-active as Hogan has been.

"If you haven't thought about it, today is really your last day to think about it," Palmetto Project manager Shelli Quenga said.

While people aren't required to have purchased a plan by the deadline, they are required to have at least begun the process by either speaking to a representative on the phone or online.

Failure to register means big fines.

"A lot of people say, 'the penalty is not that bad this year' because they hear $95, but actually it's $95 per adult or 1% of your income, so for a lot of people, 1% is a lot more than $95," Quenga said.

The fines will be assessed on next year's tax return. The Internal Revenue Service will take the money out of the tax refund or force the person to pay the government that fine. Failure to sign-up by the deadline also means a person is unable to do so until the next open enrollment period.

There are exemptions and exceptions to the fines. If someone doesn't qualify for the plans, they aren't required to sign-up. There are also 'hardship exemptions,' people can apply for in order to avoid that penalty.




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