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Affordable Care Act Deadline Could Cost You

Updated: 03/29/2014 6:09 PM
Created: 03/29/2014 4:26 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance through MNsure.org or Healthcare.gov. Missing the cut could mean a federal tax penalty, but trained navigators at UMD on Saturday said sign up can be quick.

The Northland Community Wellness Day at UMD was the perfect spot to make a last minute push for MNsure. The online health care exchange is a one-stop shop for plans, and navigators like Andy Hardman are ready to help.

“Basically, [we] help lead people through the process from applying to actually acquiring health care,” Hardman said.

The process was surprisingly easy and helpful according to Skylar Scott.

“It took 15 to 20 minutes, very easy,” Scott said. “How cheap it was, I was surprised how cheap it was.”

The 23-year-old is a student at Lake Superior College. He said the plan he got through MNsure was less expensive than getting added onto his parents insurance. He said that meant more money in his pocket.

“Well it was either going to be $175 a month or $30 a month with these guys so thanks Obama,” Scott said.

But income-based discounts like that will expire at the end of the month according to Hardman.

“In order to get a discounted policy through MNsure...that's what the March 31 deadline is for,” Hardman said.

The same deadline applies to those in Wisconsin who would be using the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov. Failing to acquire insurance by the deadline could mean a federal tax penalty next year of $95 or 1 percent of your annual income.

“But that penalty is going to go up every year to a point where, I think, in 2016 it will be in the hundreds of dollars,” Hardman said.

Scott said that is a negative of the Affordable Care Act, but he was thankful to find a cheap health care plan.

“It was probably a good thing I was forced to get health insurance because I don't know if I would have if I didn't have this,” Scott said.

Other Minnesotans did the same with over 152,000 finding plans through MNsure, and healthcare.gov boasts that 6 million people have found health plans nationwide.

There is an online form on Mnsure.org that will make sure you can avoid the tax penalty. Northlanders can call the United Way at 211 to find a navigator nearby.

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