Californians without health insurance have until tomorrow by midnight to enroll in Covered California to avoid a tax penalty.
The “shared responsibility payment” is a new tax penalty that Americans have to pay this year, if they can afford health insurance but choose not to purchase it. It is called a shared responsibility payment, because everyone in the United States is required to be part of a healthcare plan or, buying health coverage for themselves and their families rather than relying on others to pay for their care. Individuals who do not purchase health insurance by tomorrow’s deadline may be subject to the tax penalty, which is $695 per person in a household or 2.5 percent of their income, whichever is greater.
Marcus Sesay of Riverside is a good example of the benefits of healthcare coverage. Sesay, a 35-year-old native of Sierra Leone, enrolled for health insurance in 2015 to fulfill the mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He said he was not motivated by free services like an annual checkup and other health screenings, but wanted to avoid the looming tax penalty.
“Having insurance is the law, and I obey the law,” said Sesay, a security guard who has a plan with Health Net and pays $65 a month for coverage. “Insurance also gives me peace of mind. We don’t know what tomorrow might bring.”
Of those already enrolled in Covered California, about 90 percent got financial help to cover their premiums. In 2014, consumers who qualified received an average of $5,200 to pay for their insurance.
“It’s impossible to predict when or whether someone will get sick or have an accident, which makes purchasing health insurance a wise decision for anyone,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. “Now there’s another reason to get insured—taxes.”
For more details about the “last-minute” enrollment for Covered California and to find local, no-cost assistance, visit Covered CA.com and click the “Find Local Help to Enroll” button in the middle of the page.