Jan. 31 is last day to sign up for health insurance; CareSource says 1/3 of its new enrollees are from old Ky. Health Cooperative

Sunday, Jan. 31, is the last day to sign up for subsidized health insurance through Kynect, the state’s online insurance marketplace, or face a penalty when you file your tax return.

The 2010 federal health-reform law requires most people to have health insurance, or pay a penalty. For 2016, the penalty for not having health insurance is 2.5 percent of your income, or $695 per adult and $347 per child, with a maximum of $2,085 per family, whichever is higher.

There are a few exemptions, including: certain hardships, membership in some groups, some life-changing events, incarceration, if health coverage is considered unaffordable, or if household income is below the threshold for filing a tax return, according to Healthcare.gov.

For help getting coverage, you can call 1-855-459-6328, visit Kynect’s website at kynect.ky.gov, or visit one of its two retail locations, at Mall St. Mathews in Louisville or Fayette Mall in Lexington. Kynectors, trained assisters who help people choose and sign up for plans, are also available in every county.

After Jan. 31, the only way to buy health insurance on Kynect will be if there’s a major life event, like marriage or a change of employment. Those who qualify for Medicaid can apply year round. Gov. Matt Bevin is moving to close Kynect and transfer its function to the federal exchange.

Kynect has 10 companies selling health insurance to individuals and families, more than in the last enrollment period, but every company still doesn’t offer plans in every county.

CareSource, a non-profit health plan that has been around for 26 years, serves 46 Kentucky counties, up from 16 last year, and reports that it has doubled its enrollment in the state this year, in large measure by picking up former customers of the Kentucky Health Cooperative, which was forced to close. The co-op, which is now in liquidation, sold 75 percent of the policies bought through Kynect last year.

The company said in an e-mail that its Just4Me plan “offers the lowest or second lowest premiums in the six major markets in Kentucky depending on age, size of family and other factors.” Scott Streator, senior vice president of CareSource, said, “As of mid-January, one-third of new CareSource Just4Me enrollees were co-op members last year.”

CareSource said it reached out to former co-op members by creating a webpage for them, dedicating a phone line for them and holding educational events focused on co-op members.

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