The Future of (Obama) Healthcare: Enrollment Numbers and Penalties

The final hours of tax day are upon us. And, last week, the final days of the open enrollment period for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act came to a close. Enrollment exceeded the 7 million figure the government hoped for, but various surveys suggest that information about healthcare coverage, costs, and enrollment still isn’t as clear to the public as most people would like.

Enrollment Exceeded its Target
Last week, Obamacare officially ended signups. The entire campaign was a bit rocky – from its slow start to its messy website, it didn’t have the best rollout. However, the numbers don’t lie – an estimated 7.5 million people signed up for Obamacare. Last October, that number was nothing more than a pipedream. President Obama’s speech delivered from the White House lawn was clearly a celebration of the large amount of people that have signed up, and an expectation that more will follow as the benefits become clearer.

Obamacare and taxes

Image: DepositPhotos

The Penalty Is More Than You Think
Many people believe the tax penalty for not signing up for health insurance is $95. For some people, that’s all it will be. But for many, the penalty could be a lot more. For a household, it’s $95 per adult, and half that for a child. That can stack up pretty quickly if you have a partner and kids also opting out of coverage. The $95 only applies in certain circumstances, too. The penalty is either $95 or one percent of your taxable income, whichever is higher. So you could be paying a lot more than $95 if you make good money.

The Plan Comes with Financial Assistance
People may not know that you can qualify for both lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs on your insurance if your income is within a certain range. Out-of-pocket deductions only apply to what are called Silver Plans, so select that type of plan if you think you meet the income criteria for out-of-pocket savings. A tax credit is also available for people who might have trouble purchasing health insurance. You can file for the credit in 2015 when you do your 2014 taxes, or you can have the amount estimated now and partially or fully paid to your insurance company so your current out-of-pocket costs will be lower.

The Age of Enrollment Is Higher Than Expected
Young adults in the 18-34 year age range are vital to the success of the health marketplace. Because they tend to have lower medical costs, young adults and their premiums are needed to help support the projected costs that come from older enrollees with higher costs associated with their medical care. About a quarter of the people who have signed up are in the young adult range, but officials are hoping that number climbs higher to almost forty percent. However, another provision of the Affordable Care Act is that young adults under the age of 26 can remain on a parent’s plan, even if they are eligible for insurance through a school or employer.

Some Young Adults Are Unimpressed
An unfortunately high number of young adults are unimpressed with the Affordable Care Act. Some of them even believe it will make their health care coverage worse instead of better. Much of the skepticism comes from the fact that young adults aren’t very well-informed about what the Affordable Care Act offers or how it will truly impact them. Medical and technological advances change the face of medicine and healthcare every day, and keeping current with the necessary information can be challenging. With healthcare informatics impacting the future of medical processes, the needs of individuals and the system are changing. Young adults need assurance that the care they will receive under the Affordable Care Act will give them everything they need, medically.

Things originally didn’t go exactly as the Obama administration planned, and many people still don’t understand, even today, April 15th, how the tax penalty works or how much they will have to pay. Technological glitches have affected enrollment numbers, and the turnout for young adults isn’t as high as it ought to be. But financial assistance is available, and millions of people have chosen to sign up.


Hailey RobinsonHailey Robinson is a recent graduate with a degree in Journalism. Now that she isn’t face first in books she is trying to travel as much as she can. She writes in her free time between fixing up her new house and teaching people how to live a longer, healthier life.