ACA tax penalties could bring smaller refunds for uninsured

ACA tax penalties could bring smaller tax refunds for uninsured

More than half a million people in South Carolina went uninsured last year, and now they could be bringing home smaller tax refunds because of penalties.

Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act just started this weekend. Unless you or your family are exempt from those penalties, the fines for not having health insurance will only go up.

"The minimum will be $95 per adult and $47.50 per child," said Virginia King, with the Fetter Health Care Network.

The maximum tax penalty for this year goes up to $285 for a family, or 1 percent of your taxable income, whichever is greater.

King said, "This can get to be really costly if you have more than two children or one child."

King says those who don't sign up for insurance during this open enrollment period, which ends February 15th, could face larger fines on tax refunds in 2016.

"That's when it's going to be $325 per adult and $162.50 per child," said King.

The penalty will be held out of tax refunds, and could reduce a family's refund by up to $975.

King said, "Some folks think, well I can't afford this, I can't that; Just make certain that you know what you're eligible for."

King says you won't benefit from just deciding to pay the penalties, because that won't enroll you in a plan.

Shelli Quenga with the Palmetto Project said, "Insurance is a much easier and stress-free way to go, than going uninsured."

The Palmetto Project is a nonprofit organization that educates people about health care issues. Quenga says over 600,000 people across the state were still uninsured last year after open enrollment.

Quenga said, "Every year you have to re-enroll, just like you do with Medicare. You want to do that because your income income changes, your medical status and conditions might change. So you may be eligible for a different amount of assistance."

The penalties for not having health insurance will climb each year.

You have until February 15th to sign up for health coverage.

If you want your health insurance to kick in by the beginning of the year, you'll need to to enroll between now and December 15th.

Plans and prices can be found at