By Ryan Walsh
July 2, 2012
The Supreme Court's ruling on health care continues to dominate the headlines.
Massachusetts began its health care reform law six years ago. Open enrollment for health insurance begins on Monday and there are still close to four-hundred thousand uninsured people in Massachusetts.
"It seems to me as what kind of health insurance plan someone selects is a really critical, critical decision", says Leslie Laurie, the President and CEO of Tapestry Health.
For first timers it can be tricky and if you aren't insured, you could owe the IRS money.
"There is a penalty it is a dollar penalty and it is based upon how much you earn", says Tax Attorney Paul Mancinone.
If you make less than $16,000 you do not get penalized. Make more than that, you could owe anywhere from $19 a month, up to $101 dollars a month if you make $33,000 or more.
"Potentially husband and wife... so we have seen penalties as high as $2400 dollars", says Mancinone.
Having a plan could help you avoid tax penalties, but picking the wrong plan could end up costing you more money in the long-run."
"The individual mandate requires people to have insurance, but in order to meet that mandate some can only afford health insurance where a deductible is thousands and thousands of dollars", says Laurie.
Massachusetts does have the lowest percentage of uninsured people in the United States and it had the 7th lowest percentage before the law was implemented. Researchers at the Harvard Medical School revealed in a study that most of the uninsured in Massachusetts are the working poor.
"While we celebrate the fact that all of us in Massachusetts have access to health insurance that doesn't necessarily translate into the important care that individuals need", says Laurie.
The state's health insurance website is mahealthconnector.org.
The open enrollment period is from July 1st through August 15th.
If you don't have health insurance and want to try to avoid paying tax penalties. Mancinone recommends appeal it. "You can appeal, in order to appeal, you have to make sure your tax return does not show the penalty, if your tax return does show the penalty it becomes a collection matter with the Department of Revenue, because you admitted to owing the penalty. It gives you an opportunity to have your case heard, if it's as high as $2400 in the balance and there are extenuating circumstances, why volunteer the penalty. Try to have your issue addressed and hope for the best with the Commonwealth."
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