kynect offers special enrollment period

IRS withholding penalties for no insurance

Special to the Mountain Advocate

Governor Steve Beshear recently announced that a special enrollment period for the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange (kynect) will begin March 2 and continue through April 30, to allow citizens unaware of possible tax penalties more time to sign up.

More than 158,000 Kentuckians signed up for health coverage during open enrollment from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015.

“We had a tremendously successful second open enrollment period, with many new individuals signing up or continuing their health coverage through kynect,” said Gov. Beshear. “However, we believe that many Kentuckians did not realize those who do not obtain health coverage could face significant penalties when they file their taxes. And given that the personal risks of not having health coverage are even greater than the penalties, we have decided to continue a special enrollment period to allow those individuals more time to sign up.”

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) penalty for not having health insurance for the 2014 calendar year is 1% of income or $95 for each household member, whichever is greater. That penalty will increase in 2015 to 2% of income or $325 for each household member, whichever is greater.

Individuals taking advantage of this special enrollment period will still owe a fee for any months they were uninsured and did not qualify for an exemption in 2014 and 2015. This special enrollment period is designed to allow people the opportunity to get covered for the remainder of the year and avoid additional fees for 2015.

“This penalty does not apply to people that receive or are eligible for Medicaid,” said Whitney Allen, kynector with the Office of the Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange. “For those that have to pay the penalty, the money will be directly deducted from their income tax returns. This is not something that will be billed to the person.”

Grace Community Health Center has offered free assistance to citizens throughout the region as they enroll in health insurance through kynect.

Kynectors and in-person assisters from Grace Community Health Center are available to meet one-on-one to help people with their kynect applications.

  • ¥ In Knox County, call Whitney Allen at (606) 515-8843
  • ¥ In Whitley County, call Wendy McKnight at (606) 594-4889
  • ¥ In Clay & Leslie Counties, call Jennifer Gates at (606) 595-8868
  • ¥ In Bell & Laurel Counties, call Kathy Oller at (606) 595-7626

You can also apply through kynect.ky.gov or by calling 1-855-4kynect.