Special Healthcare Enrollment Period Extended

HOUGHTON — There were roughly 3500 people without health insurance in Houghton County alone in 2014.

Unless they qualified for an exemption, they would have to pay a fine when they filed their taxes. To help close the gap and help people avoid paying the tax penalty for not having health insurance, a special enrollment period has been extended through April 30.

Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator for the Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center Iola Brubaker said, “There was enough people that felt that some people are going to be filing their taxes, paying this penalty for the first time this year as they file their taxes and saying, ‘Oh, wait! That’s what it means not to be insured?”

The special enrollment period does not apply to those needing to make changes to their healthcare coverage only to those who have yet to enroll at healthcare.gov. Those who do not take advantage of this special enrollment period will not be able to enroll until sometime in the fall and their insurance won’t start until January 2016, meaning they will have to pay the penalty next year.

Brubaker said, “It’s important to note, however, that the penalty doesn’t apply to all income levels. There are exemptions available for certain religious groups and income levels but there is also other health insurance programs which are open year round for low income individuals to enroll, like the Healthy Michigan Plan.”

If you’re not sure how to enroll…help is available by contacting the Upper Great Lakes Family Center at 906–370–4075 or by clicking this link.
Brubaker said,

“If you’re eligible, then we sit down and we fill out an online application through www.healthcare.gov that includes your income, your family size and a few other basic demographic things. It takes about an hour to fill out the complete application.”