White House OKs limited waiver on health penalty - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

White House OKs limited waiver on health penalty

Posted: Updated:

WASHINGTON (AP) - With website woes ongoing, the Obama administration Monday granted a six-week extension until March 31 for Americans to sign up for coverage next year and avoid new tax penalties under the president's health care overhaul law.

The move had been expected since White House spokesman Jay Carney promised quick action last week to resolve a "disconnect" in the implementation of the law.

It comes as technical problems continue to trouble the website designed as the main enrollment portal for people who don't get health care at work.

As a consequence, Republican lawmakers, and some Democrats as well, are calling for a one-year delay in the penalties most Americans will face starting next year if they remain uninsured. Monday's action by the administration stops well short of that, and amounts only to a limited adjustment.

Under the latest policy change, people who sign up by the end of open enrollment season on March 31 will not face a penalty. That means procrastinators get a grace period.

Previously you had to sign up by the middle of February, guaranteeing that your coverage would take effect March 1, in order to avoid fines for being uninsured.

The extension - granted for 2014 only - addresses confusion that was created when the administration set the first open enrollment period under the law from Oct. 1-March 31.

The problem was that health insurance coverage typically starts on the first day of a given month, and it takes up to 15 days to process applications. So somebody signing up March 16 - well within the open enrollment period - wouldn't get coverage until April 1, thereby risking a penalty for being uninsured part of the year.

The administration "has determined that it would be unfair to require individuals in this situation to make a (penalty) payment," the Health and Human Services department said in guidance issued Monday evening. As a result, the department is creating a special one-time hardship exemption for people who get covered by March 31. And they won't have to file additional paperwork to apply for the exemption.

The mandate to carry health insurance is the most unpopular requirement of the health care law. It's meant to nudge as many people as possible into the insurance pool. That would help keep premiums in check, since the law also forbids insurers from turning away people with health problems.

Mindful of the need to sign up lots of healthy uninsured people, the administration released an analysis Monday that concludes nearly half of uninsured single young adults could buy a "bronze" level plan for $50 or less a month, after tax credits to offset the cost of premiums.

The inconsistency between the law's coverage requirements and the administration's schedule for the initial open enrollment season was first pointed out by the Jackson Hewitt tax preparation company.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • More From wfmj.comMore>>

  • Lightning kills boy swimming in Pennsylvania creek

    Lightning kills boy swimming in Pennsylvania creek

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:09 PM EDT2014-09-01 19:09:34 GMT
    Authorities say a lightning strike has killed a boy who was swimming in a central Pennsylvania creek.More >>
    Authorities say a lightning strike has killed a boy who was swimming in a central Pennsylvania creek.More >>
  • Ohio police: Wedding guest tries to steal gifts

    Ohio police: Wedding guest tries to steal gifts

    DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Police in Dayton say a wedding guest tried to make off with checks and cash for the newlyweds. Officers were called to the wedding reception late Saturday night after workers noticed that a safe had been emptied out. Police say about $6,800 was found in unopened wedding cards inside a tuxedo garment bag belonging to one of the guests. A police report says surveillance video showed a man entering the office and later walking out with the garment bag. The man told police he...More >>
    DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - Police in Dayton say a wedding guest tried to make off with checks and cash for the newlyweds. Officers were called to the wedding reception late Saturday night after workers noticed that a safe had been emptied out. Police say about $6,800 was found in unopened wedding cards inside a tuxedo garment bag belonging to one of the guests. A police report says surveillance video showed a man entering the office and later walking out with the garment bag. The man told police he...More >>
  • Flying club remembers 4 killed in Ohio plane crash

    Flying club remembers 4 killed in Ohio plane crash

    CLEVELAND (AP) - Members of a flying club held a candlelight vigil to remember four Ohio college students killed a week ago when a small plane crashed just after taking off near Cleveland. Friends and family members were among the 80 people who gathered Sunday night near the crash site in Willoughby Hills. Federal officials say the pilot of the plane reported he was having trouble climbing just after takeoff and was trying to return to the airport. All four people aboard the plane were stude...More >>
    CLEVELAND (AP) - Members of a flying club held a candlelight vigil to remember four Ohio college students killed a week ago when a small plane crashed just after taking off near Cleveland. Friends and family members were among the 80 people who gathered Sunday night near the crash site in Willoughby Hills. Federal officials say the pilot of the plane reported he was having trouble climbing just after takeoff and was trying to return to the airport. All four people aboard the plane were stude...More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Worldnow and WFMJ. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms