PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Have you signed up for health insurance yet? There's just one week remaining before open enrollment for ends March 31st. It's all apart of the Affordable Care Act,requiring people to get health insurance or pay a fine.
"This is something that is brand brand new, and it is a learning process for a huge country that has never experienced this before," said field manager for Equality California George Zander.
That's why non-profits, like Equality California, reached out to educate people on the new law as well as sign people up for coverage.
"People don't understand what is entailed in Covered California until they come in and see it," said Zander.
With one week to go, it seems to be working. In Riverside county, nearly 42,000 people now have health insurance. Statewide, so far more than a million people signed up. Even though that's thousands more than predicted, the goal is to get everyone signed up. Right now there are three ways to do so.
The first is over the phone. Phone lines are now open 8am to 8pm until the deadline, even on Saturday and Sunday. The toll-free number is (800) 300-1506. But we prepared to wait, the system is expecting a high volume of call.
Another option for you to sign up is through Covered California's website. Also expect delays, as more the more people log on it may take you longer to navigate. Once you do, the information you need handy is just your income, age and number of people in your household. Then you can chose which plan works best for you.
"I have people who have come in here who have never seen a computer in their life and don't want to and we sit down and we do the whole enrollment process for them," said Zander.
Whichever way you chose, the key is signing up. If you don't, you will have to pay come tax time.
In 2014, the annual penalty is the greater of:
$95 for each adult and $47.50 for each child, up to $285 per family
1% of the tax filer's annual household income minus the federal tax filing threshold.
In 2015, the annual penalty is the greater of:
$325 for each adult and $162.50 for each child, up to $975 per family
2% of the tax filer's annual household income minus the federal tax filing threshold.
In 2016 and beyond, the annual penalty is the greater of:
$695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child, up to $2,085 per family
2.5% of the tax filer's annual household income minus the federal tax filing threshold.
The penalty will be capped at the national average premium for the lowest cost bronze plan available through all of the Marketplaces.
"I know that are people that say I don't care about the penalty I can't afford it, there is insurance available for anybody even people who have no income at all medical is available to everyone," said Zander.