About 10 million more people had insurance coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act. According to Enroll America, the group tasked with signing people up, and data from Civis Analytics, the great uptick in those now insured include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The geographic areas that saw the largest increases include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon.1
With this year’s open enrollment period upon us, the Department of Health and Human Services says there remains about 32 million people lacking coverage.2 Of the uninsured the largest demo are those between the ages of 18 and 34 – or Young Invincibles as they were deemed during the enrollment campaign last year.
A Kaiser survey asked a sample of those who did not acquire health insurance last year their reason for declining coverage and the most popular answer was cost. In fact 36 percent answered “they tried to get coverage, but it was too expensive.” 7 percent answered they would rather pay the fine than acquire health insurance.2
Next year’s survey results should prove interesting consider the penalty for being uninsured increases significantly this year. The 2014 fee penalty was just $95 or 1% of income, whichever is larger. In 2015, those without insurance will pay the larger of $325 or 2% of income. That means you could end up shelling out hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars for forgoing coverage. Facing that kind of fee hike, perhaps more uninsured will join the ranks of the insured.
In 2016 the penalty will increase even more. It’s 2.5% of income or $695 per person, whichever is greater.
The official deadline for coverage starting on January 1, 2015 was December 15, 2014, but many states have extended dates, but you should know that the nationwide open enrollment period for individual and family health insurance plans started on November 15, 2014 and is scheduled to end on February 15, 2015.