By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff
Tuesday is the deadline to sign up for state-subsidized health insurance in order to avoid a tax penalty next year. In addition, people seeking to buy special discounted insurance aimed at 19- to 26-year-olds must also make their purchase by Nov. 23.
However, people seeking to buy private insurance have several more days to do so and still avoid the penalty.
All Massachusetts residents are required to have insurance by Dec. 31, if the state deems that coverage affordable. Those not insured will face the loss of their personal exemption about $219 -- when they file their 2007 state tax return.
People whose employers dont offer insurance and who have annual incomes under 300 percent of the federal poverty level or about $31,000 for a single person are eligible for state subsidized insurance. But they must apply and pay any premium due by Tuesday to be covered for the month of December. Applications can be filed through the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector (1-877-623-6765 or www.mahealthconnector.org); through many hospitals and health centers; or through the Health Care For All helpline, 800-272-4232.
A Nov. 23 deadline applies to those who want to buy Young Adult Plans or other Commonwealth Choice unsubsidized plans through the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector.
Private health insurers, however, are allowing a little more time. People may buy coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim Health Plan or Fallon Community Health Plan until Dec. 31 for coverage that day. At Tufts Health Plan, people may buy through Nov. 25 to get December coverage.
Here's a related statement released today by Connector Executive Director Jon Kingsdale:
More than 200,000 Massachusetts residents have signed up for health insurance during the past year. That is remarkable progress, but it also shows we have a long way to go. It took three years to pass healthcare reform legislation in Massachusetts and it will take several years to implement.
Because there are a number of different plans offered by numerous insurers, the individual deadlines for coverage effective by December 31 will vary. We have encouraged people to sign up for health insurance by November 15, as a safe date for enrolling and being sure to avoid the tax penalty. However, healthcare reform is not about penalties. Its about insuring people, and we have always said we would be flexible as we undertake an endeavor that no other state has attempted.
There are still opportunities to avoid the tax penalty.
For instance, if you qualify for Commonwealth Care, our subsidized program, and you complete your application and pay your premium by November 20, your coverage will start on December 1 and you will not be penalized. If you are buying one of our Commonwealth Choice plans, you can complete your enrollment and pay your premium by November 23 and avoid the tax penalty.
Everyone should be reminded that the tax penalties for 2008 will be significantly higher as much as one-half the cost of the least expensive plan someone can purchase. Those penalties will accrue every month you remain uninsured starting January 1. So even if you dont make the 2007 deadline, enroll as early as possible in order to avoid steeper penalties beginning January 1.
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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