Lauren Vagelakos: Another chance to get insurance

March 31, 2015




Special to The Gainesville Sun

Open enrollment for the health insurance marketplace ended for the general public on Feb. 15. However, the Center for Medicaid Services announced a new special enrollment period for individuals who did not have health insurance coverage in 2014 and as a result have to pay a fee when they file their 2014 taxes.

This period is specifically for these individuals who didn’t understand the implications of not having coverage in 2014, and were not aware it would result in having to pay a fee when filing their 2014 taxes. The special enrollment period for consumers falling into this scenario began on March 15 and will end on April 30. Consumers who fall into the special enrollment period must attest on their application that they first became aware of the tax penalty only after the end of open enrollment.

To receive health insurance coverage by April 1, eligible consumers needed to enroll on the first day they were able — March 15. If an eligible consumer applies for coverage by March 31, their coverage will begin on May 1, and so on.

There are a few important factors to keep in mind if you think you or someone you know qualifies. First, only individuals who are subject to the penalty on their 2014 taxes (even if you have not filed your taxes yet) and also do not have health coverage for 2015 are eligible to enroll. Second, if you had an exemption from 2014 health coverage, you do not qualify. Lastly, if you find that you are eligible and still choose not to enroll in health coverage, you may be subject to a fee when you pay your 2015 taxes, in addition to the fee you are already paying for not having coverage in 2014.

For questions about the special enrollment period and to enroll in coverage, the North Central Florida Navigators are here to help. WellFlorida Council has multiple navigators available to provide free, unbiased assistance to guide you through the enrollment process. The health insurance marketplace navigators can be reached by phone and at different enrollment events in North Central Florida. Navigators will be available at several tax assistance sites throughout the region during though April 30, assisting consumers who qualify. For information about these sites and to contact a Navigator in your area, visit

Lauren Vagelakos, associate planner at WellFlorida Council, manages the Health Insurance Marketplace Navigator program, providing free enrollment assistance to 15 North Central Florida counties.

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