Obamacare penalties may be delayed

The Obama administration will delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance mandate, extending how long Americans may go uninsured before facing a penalty under the law, MarketWatch has learned.

The health care law requires most people to have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014 or face a penalty, but the Administration may postpone when those penalties will go into effect. The law allows for “short coverage gaps” of up to three months before imposing the penalty, which is $95 or 1% of an individual’s income (whichever is greater) next year. Under the current rules, someone would have to be covered by March 31, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed, which is the final day that people will be able to purchase health insurance on the public exchanges, or marketplaces, created by the ACA.

But the Administration is currently working to revise its policy to ensure that
people who wait till the last day in March to sign up will not face a penalty,
the HHS official clarified. That means that people may go uninsured till April
or May without paying a fine, as it takes up to two weeks to process health
insurance applications, and new health policies take effect on the first day of
each month. A last-minute March 31 application, for example, might be processed
by mid-April for coverage starting May 1.