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Two insurance exchange navigators for Pike County’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act said Monday, Oct. 7 that those without health insurance need to sign up.
“You have to have it now or you’ll pay a penalty,” navigator Tiffany Coleman-Dade said during a presentation to Louisiana Chamber of Commerce members.
The penalty fee will be paid on federal income tax returns, Coleman-Dade said.
Fees for 2014 will be one percent of income or $95 per adult, whichever is higher. For children, the fee is $47.50, or up to $285 per family.
People with existing health care are not subject to the fees and do not have to deal with the new system if they don’t want to.
Those already insured can look for new policies under the system, but could lose the amount their employer pays into their premiums.
Those who sign up before Dec. 15 will have coverage start on Jan. 1, 2014. Those who sign up between Dec. 15 and the March 31, 2014 deadline will have coverage start between Feb. 1, 2014, and May 1, 2014, depending on their signing date.
Coleman-Dade and Kim Cunningham are working to help people deal with what is commonly called Obamacare. They are also assisting customers in Lincoln, Ralls, Audrain and Montgomery counties. They are being paid by a grant secured by Pike County Memorial Hospital.
There are four ways for the 44 million Americans without health insurance to sign up, Cunningham said. One of them is a face-to-face appointment with her or Coleman-Dade.
“You can compare the different policies that are offered,” during that appointment, Cunningham said.
Another way to sign up is online, Coleman-Dade said.
That option has been slowed because of the large amount of new customers using the federal health care website, but additional servers are coming online to handle the influx, she said.
The advantage of signing up online is that consumers can get immediate answers on what benefits and tax credits they qualify for, Coleman-Dade said.
Consumers can set up an account at the federal website (HealthCare.gov), which will allow them to make changes in their coverage in the future.
Enrollment in the new health care program can also be done through the mail or by phone.
Local insurance agent and chamber member Beth White said she is also a qualified navigator who can help affected consumers.