Pitkin County offering sign-up help for health coverage | AspenTimes.com

Pitkin County offering sign-up help for health coverage

Michael McLaughlin
The Aspen Times

Pitkin County will give residents a last-minute opportunity to sign up for health insurance and beat the March 31 deadline to apply for coverage.

Walk-in enrollment is set from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 28 in the commissioners meeting room at 530 E. Main St. in Aspen. Health-coverage guides will be available to help people through the sign-up process and assist people who qualify for Medicaid. There also will be helpers who speak Spanish.

More than 1,200 people already have signed up in Pitkin County for health insurance since the program opened in October.

“It’s critical the people understand that after the March 31 deadline, uninsured Coloradoans cannot get health-insurance coverage until 2015 unless they have a special circumstance like losing a job that provided coverage or moving out of state,” said Mili Vasquez, pitkin county health assistance network manager.

If you enroll in a health-insurance plan by March 31, you won’t have to make the payment for any month before your coverage began. For example, if you enroll in a plan on March 28, your coverage begins on May 1. If you didn’t have coverage earlier in the year, you won’t have to pay a fee for any of the previous months of 2014.

Health care law requires all people who can afford it to take responsibility for their own health insurance by getting coverage or paying a penalty fee. People without health coverage who elect to pay the fee and do without insurance coverage also will have to pay the entire cost of all their medical care. They won’t be protected from high medical bills that can sometimes lead to bankruptcy.

According to Healthcare.gov, the penalty in 2014 is calculated one of two ways. You’ll either pay 1 percent of your yearly household income, where only the amount of income above the tax-filing threshold of $10,150 for an individual is used to calculate the penalty, or pay a flat rate of $95 per person for the year ($47.50 per child younger than 18) with a maximum penalty per family of $285.

The way the penalty is calculated, a single adult with household income below $19,650 would pay the $95 flat rate. A single adult with household income above $19,650 would pay an amount based on the 1 percent rate. If the single adult income is below $10,150, no penalty is owed.

The penalty increases every year. In 2015, it’s 2 percent of income, or $325 per person. In 2016 and later years, it’s 2.5 percent of income, or $695 per person. After that time, the penalty will be adjusted for inflation. Health-insurance prices generally depend on where you live, your age, how many people are covered by your plan and whether you use tobacco products.

Through March 31, open enrollment through Connect for Health Colorado is available online at http://www.connectfor healthco.com. People unavailable to attend the enrollment event can make individual in-person appointments by contacting Pitkin County coverage guide Yolanda Thierfelder at 970-471-3554.

mmclaughlin@aspentimes.com


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