TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) – The deadline to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act is approaching.
The program was designed to provide health insurance coverage to Americans at a reasonable price, but Saint Elizabeth Regional Health President and CEO Terry Wilson said it hasn’t had the impact he expected.
“The notion that these exchanges would provide an opportunity for all the uninsured in the United States to get coverage, really hasn’t worked that way,” said Wilson.
The Congressional Budget Office originally projected about seven million Americans would sign up for coverage, but a recent estimate puts enrollment around six million.
Those who opt out of the coverage will pay a penalty of paying one percent of a person’s yearly household income or $95 person, whichever is greater. Families will be charged $47.50 for each child under age 18, but will not pay more than $285 in fines per family. Even though people will pay for not signing up, Wilson said the fees don’t seem to be encouraging enrollment.
“The penalty has not had the impact. It has not been the incentive that it was designed to be to get more people to enroll and get coverage,” said Wilson.
Wilson says some people are choosing to pay a penalty rather than paying a monthly insurance fee.
“There are a lot of people who look at their income and say, ‘One percent? Compared to what I’m being told is the price of health insurance next year, I’ll pay the one percent,'” said Wilson.
If people change their minds and want to purchase insurance through the Affordable Care Act, they can do so by March 31, or wait until the next open enrollment in November and pay the price for not signing up.
The Obama Administration said it is not extending the March 31st deadline, but people who try to sign up and are unable to finish by the deadline can qualify for an extension.
For more information on the Affordable Care Act, click here.