TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Do you have health insurance? If the answer is “no,” are you prepared to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars at tax time? Floridians who did not purchase health insurance or receive it as part of an employee benefits package last year may face sticker shock when preparing tax forms this year.

Last year was the first year the Affordable Care Act went into effect and as part of the ACA, many people who do not have health insurance will pay a penalty when filing 2014 tax returns. The average Florida household without insurance coverage will pay $470. Sound pricey? That fee will double in 2015 to $939 and increase every year after that. In 2016, it will surpass the four-digit mark, reaching $1814 per household.*

“Many people will receive surprising news when they prepare their 2014 tax returns, and the consequence of going uninsured or underinsured is just one aspect,” said Stephen D. Cutright, a Certified Public Accountant in Tallahassee. “For taxpayers who enrolled in subsidized coverage, if the income estimate they used to qualify for subsidies was off or if their income changed during the year and was not reported in a timely fashion, they also may receive unwelcome news this spring.”

“Imagine waking up on April 14 to learn you have one day to pay back a loan you didn’t know you owed. Unfortunately, this may be the case for many taxpayers,” he added.

Cutright shared the story of a couple whose compassion and good intentions left them with an unwanted surprise when it came time to pay their taxes.

“When a sister’s family was struggling last year, my clients took responsibility for a teenage niece only to learn the youngster did not have health insurance and they may be responsible for a health care tax penalty which, at 1 percent of their income, could exceed $1,000,” Cutright said. “I advised them to enroll their niece in coverage and avoid paying twice as much next year.”

While open enrollment has state uninsured estimates fluctuating by day and somewhat unpredictable, a recent study found approximately 20 percent of Florida’s population under age 64 (approximately 3 million people) are uninsured.** Floridians seeking comprehensive coverage and affordable plans can visitwww.MyFloridaChoices.org and search for plans that can help you avoid future tax penalties.

“The health care penalty will not register on most people’s radars until they prepare their 2014 tax returns, and then it’s too late,” said CEO of Florida Health Choices, Rose Naff. “We want everyone to know that you need to get ACA-compliant coverage now, before open enrollment ends Feb. 15. You can shop, compare and enroll in plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace at www.MyFloridaChoices.org.”

Florida Health Choices launched a multi-media campaign in early January to promote the new offerings of comprehensive plans for individuals and families on www.MyFloridaChoices.org. The campaign includes an online video, radio advertisements, as well as advertisements online, via Facebook and on digital billboards.

About Florida Health Choices

Florida’s Health Insurance Marketplace and Florida Health Choices, Inc. were established by the Florida Legislature to provide improved access to affordable, quality health care for residents statewide. For more information, visit www.MyFloridaChoices.org or find us on Facebook.

*Figures are based on the median household income in Florida, which is $46,956, and the average household size of 2.61 persons. Source: U.S. Census Bureau

**Figure is based on 2013 population statistics. Source: U.S. Census Bureau