By Ann McCreary
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is offering a special enrollment extension through April 17 for people who need to enroll in a qualified health plan to avoid a tax penalty or who encountered technical problems in trying to enroll.
This is the first year residents who are filling their 2014 federal taxes may incur a penalty through the IRS on their tax return if they failed to have health insurance for more than three consecutive months in 2014.
Because some residents may become aware of the penalty for the first time this year, Washington Healthplanfinder has scheduled a special enrollment period so they can get coverage and avoid the penalty for not having coverage in 2015.
New and renewing customers who qualify for the spring enrollment period include individuals who misunderstood the penalties for not having insurance, as well as people who experienced barriers to enrollment and renewal due to system delays, technical defects in Healthplanfinder, and unclear instructions regarding the necessary steps for 2015 enrollment.
March 23 is the deadline to enroll and avoid the penalty for not having coverage in 2015. This is also the payment deadline for coverage effective April 1.
The next open enrollment period for health insurance coverage is Oct. 1 to Dec. 15, 2015, for coverage effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Alaskan Native/American Indian or people seeking Washington Apple Health coverage can apply at any time. Enrollment of small businesses through Washington Healthplanfinder Business is also year-round.
Additional information about the spring special enrollment period is available at www.wahbexchange.org/SEP.