ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
63°
Broken Clouds
H 85° L 63°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    63°
    Current Conditions
    Broken Clouds. H 85° L 63°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    68°
    Afternoon
    Cloudy. H 69° L 59°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    66°
    Evening
    Mostly Cloudy. H 69° L 59°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Window is closing to sign up or seek changes to Obamacare plans

Trending on Facebook

More Popular and trending stories

People who got off to a rough start with Obamacare or have yet to pick a plan still have options— but only if they move quickly before the open enrollment period ends on March 31.

Those who were unable to sign up for a marketplace plan because of the glitches with federal or state websites can receive retroactive coverage to the date they originally applied, as well as retroactive premium tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies, the federal government announced in late February.

>> Read more trending stories  

In addition, some people who gave up on enrolling through their state’s balky marketplace and instead, bought a plan outside the exchange, may be able to switch to a marketplace plan and qualify for retroactive subsidies.  

The guidance leaves it up to individual states to decide whether they want to offer these options. The federal marketplace has its own process in place to bump back the effective coverage date for people who encountered those problems, says an official at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

“This [guidance] raises more questions than it answers,” says Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “From a consumer perspective, it says nothing about what difficulties you have to have had to qualify or what documentation you have to show.”

In addition to difficulties enrolling, some consumers have been tripped up by inaccurate or incomplete information posted online about the benefits or providers available in a particular plan. They, too, may get some relief.

According to federal guidance released in early February, if enrollees encounter “benefit display errors,” such as inaccurate information about deductibles or coverage, insurers are encouraged to honor the information they displayed.

If the insurer fails to do so, and the misinformation might have affected a consumer’s choice of plan, that individual will generally be allowed to pick another plan at the same metal coverage level, offered by the same insurer. If consumers can’t find a good substitute with that insurer, they’ll have 60 days to select a new marketplace plan, the guidance says.

Similarly, if people have enrolled in a marketplace plan and then discovered that it doesn’t include doctors, hospitals or other providers they need, they may switch to another plan at the same metal level offered by the same insurer, according to the federal rules. However, changes due to provider network issues must be made by Mar. 31.

By the end of February, roughly 4 million people had signed up for a marketplace plan on the federal or state-based exchanges.

Picking a plan is only part of the process of getting coverage. Benefits only take effect when you pay your premium, says Sarah Lueck, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

 “If you’ve never paid your premium, your insurer doesn’t consider you’re covered,” she says. 

People who haven’t enrolled by Mar. 31 may owe a penalty for not having health insurance in 2014.

In the past, people buying coverage directly from an insurer could generally sign up any time of the year as long as they got through the medical underwriting process that insurers used to evaluate applicants. Not anymore. Consumers who don’t sign up during the open enrollment period which ends Mar. 31 will generally have to wait until enrollment begins again next fall to sign up or change plans —unless their circumstances change, for instance, if they move, marry, or lose a job, among some of the more common examples.

In 2014, anyone who buys a plan during the open enrollment period won’t be penalized for not having insurance. However, people who bought coverage that begins April 1 or later (and who would otherwise be penalized because they had a coverage gap of three months or more) will have to claim a hardship exemption when they file their taxes next year to avoid the penalty.    

There are a number of circumstances that may exempt people from penalties for not having insurance. The long list of exemptions covers things like affordability—if the cheapest plan available in someone’s area costs more than 8 percent of his or her income — incarceration, and hardships such as being evicted or filing for bankruptcy.

More From This SeriesInsuring Your Health

People who don’t qualify for an exemption and don’t buy a plan might face a bigger financial hit than they anticipate. For 2014, the penalty is the greater of $95 or 1 percent of someone’s modified adjusted gross income over the filing limit ($10,150 for single person, $20,300 for a married couple filing jointly in 2014). 

 “We don’t talk about the $95 because it’s a complete myth,” says Brian Haile, senior vice president for tax policy at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. Only a handful of people who might be subject to the penalty will have incomes low enough to qualify for that standard. 

We want to hear from you: Contact Kaiser Health News
Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Why did a Texas teacher accused of having an improper relationship with a student smile in her mugshot? Her lawyer has offered an explanation. According to Dallas-Fort Worth's KXAS, Jason Nassour, attorney for Lockhart High School anatomy teacher Sarah Fowlkes, said she was grinning because she's innocent. >> PREVIOUS STORY: Teacher accused of improper relationship with student smiles in mugshot  'This isn't a guilty person sitting there like they just got caught,' Nassour told KXAS. 'When everything's fleshed out, it won't be as it appears.' Lockhart police began investigating the incident March 10 after a school administrator reported that 'an educator at the school may be having an inappropriate relationship with a currently enrolled student,' according to the arrest affidavit. A 17-year-old student claimed that Fowlkes, 27, touched his genitals and that he 'made contact with the defendant's breasts,' the affidavit said. >> See the affidavit here Fowlkes was arrested on a charge of 'improper relationship between educator and student,' police said. The school district also suspended Fowlkes, The Austin American-Statesman reported. 'Lockhart parents entrust their children to us every day, and it is something we do not take lightly,' Lockhart Superintendent Susan Bohn said in a statement, the American-Statesman reported. 'The district does not and will not tolerate any improper communication or contact between a teacher and child.' Bohn also alerted parents about the arrest and suspension in an email, the American-Statesman reported. >> On Statesman.com: Lockhart High teacher accused of improper relationship with student Nassour told KXAS that Fowlkes 'was arrested on the statement of a 17-year-old kid with no corroborating evidence.' >> Read more trending news According to the American-Statesman, Fowlkes, who taught anatomy and physiology and environmental systems at Lockhart High, previously taught science and social studies at Plum Creek Elementary School. The Houston Chronicle, citing Fowlkes' social media accounts, reported that she has been married since 2013.
  • Two shoppers claimed they received fake currency when they requested cash back from a Florida Walmart, a police report said.  On March 18, deputies from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the Walmart on 103rd Street, where two Jacksonville residents – Taijahn Robinson and Tometta Lattella – said they received fake bills as cash back during purchases made on March 17.  Walmart said Wednesday it is investigating to confirm the claims. The victims told JSO that they didn't know the bills were fake until the day after they shopped at Walmart.  >> Read more trending news “We take these situations seriously and are currently working both internally and with local law enforcement to confirm the claims,' Walmart said in a statement.  Robinson and Lattella do not know each other, JSO said in the report. Lattella's son obtained $100 as cash back from a purchase made at 10:30 p.m., police said. The bill obtained was smaller than a typical $100 bill, JSO said, and didn't have proper security markings.  Earlier, about 9 p.m., Robinson said she obtained $100 as cash back from the same register. Robinson received three fake $20 bills with the same serial number, JSO said.  The fake money was confiscated by authorities.  Walmart didn't reimburse the shoppers. The manager on duty told Robinson and Lattella that they would need to file a formal complaint with Walmart's corporate office. 
  • A 27-year-old science teacher at a Texas high school has been arrested after being accused of having an improper relationship with a student, the Lockhart school district announced Monday. >> UPDATE: Teacher accused of improper relationship smiled because she is innocent, lawyer says Lockhart High School teacher Sarah Fowlkes, a school district employee since October 2014, also was suspended from her job. The district said it was alerting the State Board for Educator Certification about the case. The district said it first received a report about the relationship on March 10, before the start of spring break, and alerted Lockhart police and Child Protective Services. Police said the student was 17 years old. >> Read more trending news “Lockhart parents entrust their children to us every day, and it is something we do not take lightly,” Superintendent Susan Bohn said in a statement. “The district does not and will not tolerate any improper communication or contact between a teacher and child.” Bohn emailed Lockhart High parents on Monday to notify them of the arrest and Fowlkes’ suspension. The superintendent also asked parents to speak with their children about what happened. “If any student or parent has information about this situation, please contact the Lockhart Police Department at 512-398-4401,” Bohn wrote. Counselors also would be available at the high school for support, she said. Fowlkes, who grew up in Dripping Springs, taught anatomy and physiology and environmental systems, according to a cached webpage that has since been deleted from the district’s website. According to the webpage, Fowlkes earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from St. Edwards University and went through the UTeach program at the University of Texas before earning an alternative teaching certification. She previously was a third- and fifth-grade science and social studies teacher at Plum Creek Elementary in the district.
  • Ten structures are “lost” as the result of a fast-moving wildfire in Bryceville. Nassau County Emergency Management says the official emergency shelter set up for evacuees is the Bryceville Baptist Church at 7732 US Hwy 301. The American Red Cross is cooperating with that shelter. The Florida Highway Patrol says two other shelters have been established- one at Gray Gables Church, 54031 Church Road and one at Callahan First Baptist Church, 45090 Green Avenue. Shifting winds drove the fire, which the Florida Forest Service for the District says is more than 350 acres around CR 119, CR 121, and Countryside Acres. As of 9:30PM, the fire was reported as 50% contained. The evacuations will remain in effect until the fire is completely contained. The Florida Forest Service Jacksonville says the fire started with someone burning paperback books, and that it is illegal to burn household garbage in Florida. Our partner Action News Jax reports the landowner will be held responsible. Nassau County Firefighters, the Florida Forest Service, and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue are all working the scene. Facilities have been taking in animals from anyone who had to evacuate. All Paws Boarding at 8356 US Hwy 301 is sheltering dogs and cats. You’re asked to bring a crate and vaccination history if you can. The Walker Quarter Horse Farm at 14452 Normandy Blvd is taking in horses for free, but request owners bring feed, hay, and supplies.
  • Prior to Monday’s premiere of “Dancing with the Stars” Season 24, former figure skater and “DWTS” champion Kristi Yamaguchi took to Twitter to wish fellow former figure skater Nancy Kerrigan good luck in the worst way possible. >> Read more trending news Hours before Kerrigan took the stage, Yamaguchi tweeted, “So excited for you @NancyAKerrigan ! Can’t wait to see you grace that ballroom floor, break a leg!” Yes, that’s right. She told Kerrigan, victim of the famous 1994 attack, in which she was assaulted with a police-style baton to the knee, to “break a leg.” Just before the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit that year, a man, who had been paid by Kerrigan rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, struck her on the right knee, injuring her leg. While it wasn’t broken, Kerrigan did suffer cuts, bruises and swelling and walked with a limp. Twitter responded with generally surprised reactions. Of course, Yamaguchi was just employing a common -- if ill-fitting, considering Kerrigan’s history -- phrase, but that didn’t stop the internet from freaking out over it. Yamaguchi has not clarified her comment, nor has she deleted the tweet.

The Latest News Videos