It’s Not Too Late to Help Your Clients Avoid the CA Healthcare Penalty

Health insurance may not be something you normally discuss with your clients at tax time, but it should be, now that the state is imposing a penalty on people who don’t obtain coverage this year. The good news is that it’s not too late to obtain coverage and avoid the penalty. Covered CA recently announced that individuals who didn’t obtain insurance prior to the January 31, 2020 enrollment deadline have another opportunity to enroll and possibly obtain financial support for the cost of insurance.

CSEA has been working closely with Covered CA and FTB to produce and distribute a resource guide for tax professionals whose clients need information about the healthcare mandate. Covered CA reached out to CSEA to partner on this project because they believe that CSEA members Members will be an important resource for educating tax filers who are learning of the health insurance mandate and tax penalty for the first time. A Special Enrollment Period that allows individuals to purchase health insurance through Covered California is open now through April 30, the maximum grace period to go without health insurance coverage and avoid the penalty is three months. Therefore, clients who wish to avoid the tax penalty must enroll by March 31 to ensure coverage effective April 1. Clients who enroll in the Special Enrollment Period on or after April 1 will be subject to up to four months of penalty.

Covered CA's Tax Preparer Quick Guide is full of information that will help you help your clients, including several resources for connecting your clients with financial support as well as finding coverage options. The Help On-Demand tool allows consumers to request a call-back from a certified enroller, while the Storefront Finder helps consumers find a local brick-and-mortar location to receive in-person assistance. The toll-free 800 number also connects consumers to Covered California’s customer service center. 

It is important to note that, for those who qualify, California has several new financial resources to help reduce the cost of coverage. The amount of financial help varies by income, region, and household size, but the new financial help extends even to middle-income earners: Families of four with income up to $154,500 may qualify.

If you have any additional questions, please email Brian Pedersen, CSEA's Advocacy and Governance Coordinator.