As Obamacare Deadline Approaches, Penalties Loom for Those Who Miss It

Mar 25, 2014

Gov. Dannel Malloy sells Obamacare as the enrollment deadline approaches.
Credit Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Officials say enrollment in the state's health insurance marketplace is surging as the March 31 deadline to sign up approaches. 

Federal and state officials are making a final push to enroll as many people as possible in the Affordable Care Act before the deadline passes on Monday. Governor Dannel Malloy appeared at a health center in East Hartford to make the case.

"To the individuals who still are out there and haven't had a first experience with us, pick up the phone, go to one of our centers, we have individuals in places like this throughout the state to help," he said.  "Officials say that twice as many people are signing up each day now compared to a typical day. Website traffic is up 20 percent each day. And the state says it hopes to enroll another 15,000 people in the time that's left.

But what about those who don't sign up for insurance?

If you can't prove to the IRS that you have insurance, or one of several exemptions, you may pay a penalty when it comes time to file your 2014 taxes. This year, the federal government will make you pay either one percent of your gross household income over the federal income tax filing threshhold...or $95 per person, whichever is greater.

That could mean hundreds of dollars.

"It's an amount of money," the governor said.  "I understand that."

Which, he said, is exactly why people should sign up and avoid it. Asked whether he thought the president may decide to waive the penalties come tax time next year, Malloy said this:

"There's a lot of improvements that could be made to the program that make common sense, but you have to get beyond the desire of a whole bunch of people just to kill the program. This program is not going to be killed."

After the deadline passes, one challenge will be to see whether people actually pay up. ConnectiCare, one of three insurers in the marketplace, says that 94 percent of enrollees paid their February premiums.