Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thousands of Kentuckians face federal tax penalty for not having health insurance

"Thousands of Kentuckians might face a penalty this tax season for failing to sign up for health insurance during 2014," Mary Meehan reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The state estimated that 340,000 Kentuckians would buy private insurance through its Kynect marketplace, but only 80,000 have done so. However, Meehan writes, some of those who did "might have qualified for Medicaid under the state's expanded income guidelines, said Carrie Banahan, who heads Kynect."

Jill Midkiff, spokesman for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, told Meehan, "There are too many variables at play here to do simple arithmetic for estimated populations. It would be safe to say that thousands of Kentuckians will likely face a tax penalty this year for not obtaining health insurance."

Banahan said, "A lot of people are going to be very surprised." And that will include some people who were eligible for Medicaid, but didn't enroll in it. Medicaid enrollment is open year-round, but private-insurance enrollment closes Sunday, Feb. 15 and won't reopen until next fall unless someone has a life-changing event "such as a birth, divorce or loss of a job," Meehan notes.

"The penalty for not having insurance during 2014 is $95 for each person in a household or 1 percent of the household income, whichever is higher," Meehan notes. "The bill will come due when 2014 taxes are filed, she said. If a person is due a refund, it will be deducted from the tax refund." Next year, the penalty will be 2 percent, with a minimum of $325 per adult or $162.50 per child, under provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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