January 21, 2015 at 09:26am
Home Stretch for 2015 Obamacare Open Enrollment
JABA Offering Free Help as 2015 Deadline Approaches
“Here they come…down the stretch!” That’s a phrase you typically associate with horse racing. However, for the next month, the uninsured are in the home stretch if they want to beat the fast-approaching deadline to sign up for 2015 health insurance in the federal Marketplace.
The open enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is February 15th. Until that date, those needing help in navigating the law and determining whether they are eligible for any financial assistance can speak with certified counselors at the Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA). “As in the ACA’s first year, JABA has a dedicated team of trained application counselors ready to meet with anyone who wants to sign up for health insurance,” said Ginger Dillard, JABA’s Director of Advocacy Services. She added: “Everyone on the JABA counseling team this year was part of our 2014 assister group. So, we are offering the same high quality, no-cost, one-on-one service for the second year in a row with a very experienced and dedicated team.”
Sunny Leporati, Financial Wellness Coordinator at JABA, explained one big difference between last year’s enrollment period and this year’s period, a difference that many who signed up for Marketplace health insurance in 2014 may not realize. “The open enrollment period for 2015 is much shorter than last year. In 2014, people had until the middle of April to sign up for a policy”, noted Ms. Leporati. “This year, the enrollment deadline is two months earlier…and it’s coming up in under a month.”
While the enrollment period is shorter this year than in 2014, the tax penalty for not being insured has increased. Unless an uninsured individual qualifies for an exemption from the personal responsibility mandate to have health insurance, that penalty has jumped from $95 per uninsured adult or 1% of income (whichever is greater) to $325 per uninsured adult or 2% of income.
JABA’s counselors meet with clients weekdays from 9 am to 4pm at JABA’s main office at 674 Hillsdale Drive in Charlottesville. “To insure each client has a dedicated time block to speak with a counselor,” noted Ms. Leporati, “appointments are necessary and can be arranged by calling 434- 817-5222.” Appointments typically are 60 to 90 minutes long.