Refresher course in Obamacare enrollment

Love it or hate it, Obamacare is a reality, and if you’re looking to participate in enrollment for the upcoming year, now is the time…

Obamacare open enrollment period: What you need to know. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Love it or hate it, Obamacare is a reality, and if you’re looking to participate in enrollment for the upcoming year, now is the time to get signed up.

Open enrollment for federal and state health insurance programs runs from November 15th, 2014 to February 15th, 2015. If you don’t make the deadline, you might be forced to remain uninsured or take a lesser form of temporary insurance.

SEE ALSO: Enrollment of Obamacare exceeds expectations but not for Latinos

To ensure you get signed up for health care in a timely manner with a plan that suits your needs, there are just a few steps you need to take.

Easy guide to signing up for Obamacare 2015

Step 1: Research the coverage options for 2015 insurance plans: This is done through the official Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov. By typing in your zip code, you can see what insurance packages are available and what their range of prices are for the upcoming year.

Step 2: Decide if you have any exemptions or special circumstances that may qualify you for discounted costs. There are a number of programs included in Obamacare, as well as tax credits, that may help people who meet certain eligibility requirements. If you are living below the poverty level, have young children, have been in the military, or have receive government assistance in the past, it would be wise to call 1-800-318-2596 to see if you qualify for any discounts.

Step 3: Visit the official Obamacare sign-up website Healthcare.gov. If you have Internet access, Healthcare.gov is the starting point for obtaining insurance. The website will walk you through the steps page-by-page, first setting up your account, then walking you through the application process, plan selection, and final enrollment.

If you can’t use the Internet for some reason (the government website has been known for its glitches), you can call 1-800-318-2596 to place an application, gain access to help in other languages, or to locate a facility near you where you can go an apply in-person.

SEE ALSO:  Obamacare and employer-based health coverage: What you need to know

Individuals looking to access Healthcare.gov in Spanish can visit www.Cuidadodesalud.gov/es/ for easy access.

Remember, going without a form of health insurance may cause you to receive a tax penalty at the end of the year. For 2015, the penalty is the higher of these two options:

  • 2 percent of your yearly household income. (Only the amount of income above the tax filing threshold, about $10,000 for an individual, is used to calculate the penalty.) The maximum penalty is the national average premium for a bronze plan.
  • $325 per person for the year ($162.50 per child under 18). The maximum penalty per family using this method is $975.