Still time to enroll in ‘Obamacare’ without penalty |

Still time to enroll in ‘Obamacare’ without penalty

Many Americans rang in 2014 by both celebrating the benefits and groaning at the confusion brought by the Affordable Care Act, or “ObamaCare.”

According to statistics provided by Grand County Rural Health Network, enrollments for both health insurance and Medicaid surged as the Jan. 1 deadline approached, with nearly half of Colorado’s enrollments occurring in December.

Through Connect for Health Colorado — the state’s solution to enrolling and bringing residents into compliance — and expanded Medicare, which helped fill in the low-income gap, over 160,000 people in Colorado will now be covered by some form of insurance.

In Grand County, 173 new enrollees are now covered through Medicaid, and 215 people are now covered through private insurance.

Still, the process hasn’t been without its snags. As thousands scrambled to come into health insurance compliance by the Jan. 1 deadline, they experienced a slow website and long waits on Connect for Health Colorado’s call line.

Others remain confused about tax penalties for those who fail to enroll on time.

“There is such confusion about the ACA mandate – lots of people think because they didn’t sign up for insurance by Jan. 1 that they will get the tax penalty,” said Jen Fanning, executive director of Grand County Rural Health Network.

There’s a three-month grace period before tax penalties go into effect, meaning most have until March 31 to enroll in a health insurance program. After the March deadline, penalties will amount to $95 per person in 2014. In 2015, they jump to $325 per person, and by 2016, it’ll cost $695 per person.

Although the grace period gives the uninsured a few more months to navigate the health insurance marketplace, Fanning and others at the Rural Health Network urge residents not to delay. Signing up for insurance can take multiple days and long waits, especially if enrollees haven’t gathered sufficient personal and family information.

Through the Grand County Rural Health Network, health coverage guides are available to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act and guide county residents through the process and troubleshoot snags.

Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.

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