A handful of states are still operating their Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace exchanges, even after the federal exchange — HealthCare.gov — closed down in mid-December for everyone except those in hurricane- or wind-ravaged areas.
The federal exchange, even with a window half as long as in 2016, saw 8.8 million people sign-up for coverage beginning Jan. 1 — just 400,000 enrollees short of the 2016 mark.
California, New York and the District of Columbia have the latest sign-up date, Jan. 31, but plans purchased in January won’t start until Feb. 1 or even March 1, depending on the state and purchase date.
Four states with varying cut-off dates are guaranteeing coverage starting Feb. 1: Colorado (Jan. 12), Minnesota (Jan. 14), Washington (Jan. 15) and Massachusetts (Jan. 23).
Though Congressional Republicans in their recently passed tax legislation included a repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate — have health coverage or pay a fine — the repeal doesn’t kick in until Jan. 1, 2019. Meanwhile, the IRS announced in late 2017 that it would reject any tax return that lacks proof of coverage or does not include payment to cover the fine for not having health insurance.
If the IRS decides to enforce the mandate for 2018, those whose coverage starts after Jan. 1 will have to pay a percentage of the fine depending on how long they lacked coverage. However, the IRS says it may issue an exemption if the gap in coverage is less than three months in duration.
The shared responsibility fine is $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of household income, though the family maximum is $2,095.
Businesses with 50 or more employees are faced with the employer shared responsibility provision to provide minimum essential health coverage or pay a fine. The IRS in November began sending out violation notices to companies that failed to meet the terms of the ACA.