Though the most recent open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) formally closed on February 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Friday that it would run a six-week special enrollment period from March 15 to April 30 for individuals who say that they paid a penalty for not having health care coverage in 2014, and were not aware of the penalty until after the regular enrollment period closed. The extension comes as many people who owe a penalty complete their tax returns for 2014, and find for the first time that a penalty has been assessed for a lack of coverage.
The first year that the penalty is assessed is for 2014, at a rate of $95 or one percent of a person's household income, whichever is larger. That penalty will increase next year to $325 or two percent of household income, whichever is greater. The administration hopes that offering additional enrollment opportunities for taxpayers who did not obtain health coverage out of ignorance of the law will allow them to avoid a penalty next year.