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The deadline to avoid Obamacare penalties by enrolling in a health plan is March 31, and it is fast approaching.
Despite early issues with the HealthCare.gov website, the federal government expects most citizens to be signed up with some form of minimum Obamacare-compliant health coverage or face a tax penalty for 2014. The Washington Post reports that many states are asking the federal government for an extension of that deadline.
What should you do to meet the Obamacare deadline?
'Sign Up' Using the Healthcare Insurance Exchange
The open enrollment period for healthcare plans began on October 1 and is ending on March 31. Most Americans need to either have some form of minimum health insurance before then, or "sign up" for Obamacare.
You sign up for Obamacare through the Health Insurance Exchanges -- either at HealthCare.gov or through your home state's exchange. Some states are still having trouble with their exchange websites. For example, the Post reports that Oregon still doesn't have a fully functioning healthcare enrollment website, and is hoping to get a "month-long extension" from the March 31 deadline.
However, there are still many Americans who need not sign up at all for Obamacare, including members of specific religious groups and the extremely poor. But for those who aren't exempt under the Affordable Care Act, you may face a penalty for missing the March 31 deadline.
If you do not qualify for an exemption and still don't have health insurance coverage by March 31, you will likely face penalties on your taxes. For those who miss out on this enrollment period in 2014, the penalty applied to your 2014 taxes will be $95 or 1 percent of your household income -- whichever is greater.
Since most Americans' household income is more than $9,500, the penalty for not having health insurance by March 31 will likely be much greater than $95. One percent may not seem like a lot, but for middle-class wage earners, the Obamacare penalty may eat away at an already meager tax return.
This penalty will increase in 2015 to $325 or 2 percent of your household income (whichever is greater), so not having health insurance will become more and more costly on future tax returns.
If you're worried about meeting the March 31 deadline and still have questions about Obamacare, contact an experienced health care attorney.